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Taking on Goliath

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to Goliath and that’s just what a group of small family-owned farms in Argentina are doing. These brave Argentine tobacco farmers have just filed lawsuits against the goliath Monsanto as well as other major tobacco companies like Philip Morris claiming these companies knowingly poisoned them with herbicides and pesticides subsequently causing “devastating birth defects” in their children. The birth defects cited in the 55 page complaint include cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, psychomotor retardation, missing fingers and blindness.

Most of Argentina's tobacco is grown in the rural north eastern province of Misiones. The small family-owned farms sell their tobacco to many United States distributors. Philip Morris and Carolina Leaf use a tobacco brokerage company, Tabacos Norte, to buy tobacco from the farmers and sell them crop production supplies, including herbicides and pesticides.

The farmers claim the tobacco companies that buy their crops asked them to replace the native tobacco with a new type, used in Philip Morris cigarettes, which required more pesticides. They claim the defendants pushed Monsanto’s Roundup on the farmers despite a lack of protective equipment or sufficient training directly exposing them to Roundup in large concentrations assuring them that the products were safe. Monsanto’s Roundup is a herbicide with its active ingredient glyphosate has been linked to a myriad of nasty human and environmental side effects.

The claim states that the tobacco companies “wrongfully caused the parental and infant plaintiffs to be exposed to those chemicals and substances which they both knew, or should have known, would cause the infant offspring of the parental plaintiffs to be born with devastating birth defects.”

The plaintiffs also claim they lacked training and instruction on the safe disposal of unused Roundup and other pesticides which caused further exposure. Leftover Monsanto's pesticides contaminated the farmers' non-tobacco crops, water wells and streams meant for family use, exposing their families to the toxic substances, the farmer say.

The lawyer argues that the tobacco companies were ”motivated by a desire for unwarranted economic gain and profit,” with zero regard for the farmers and their infant children — many of which are now suffering from severe birth defects from Monsanto’s products. The farmers seek compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, product liability, breach of warranty, ultra hazardous activity, aiding and abetting, willful and wanton misconduct and violations of Argentine laws.

Monsanto, who is no stranger to legal trouble, is named in the suit along with Altria Group fka Philip Morris Cos., Philip Morris USA, Carolina Leaf Tobacco, Universal Corporation fka Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and others.