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Monsanto pleads guilty to using banned pesticide on research crop

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Biotech giant Monsanto on Thursday agreed to plead guilty to illegally using a banned and highly toxic pesticide on research crops at one of its facilities on the Hawaiian island of Maui and to pay $10 million in fines.

The company admitted in court documents filed in US District Court in Honolulu that it sprayed the pesticide known as Penncap-M on corn seed and other crops at its Valley Farm facility in 2014, even though it knew the chemical had been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency the year before.

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“The illegal conduct in this case posed a threat to the environment, surrounding communities and Monsanto workers,” said Nick Hanna, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, whose office handled the case. “Federal laws and regulations impose a clear duty on every user of regulated and dangerous chemicals to ensure the products are safely stored, transported and used.”

The case against Monsanto was brought as the agriculture giant faced a slew of lawsuits arguing that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer.

Federal prosecutors had initially sought to file felony charges against the company for illegally spraying Penncap-M, a nerve agent. But they reportedly agreed to let the company plead to a lesser misdemeanor offense after Monsanto’s lawyers intervened at the highest levels of the Department of Justice.

In its guilty plea, Monsanto admitted that after the 2014 spraying, it told employees to enter the sprayed fields a week later even though it knew the workers should have been kept from entering the area for 31 days.

The plea calls for Monsanto to pay a $6 million criminal fine and $4 million in community service payments to Hawaiian government entities.

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Hanna’s office said the government agreed to dismiss felony charges in two years if Monsanto abides by the plea agreement.

Photo AFP/File / JOHN THYS


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CNN

‘It’s not a both sides thing’: CNN host battles Trump aide over hydroxychloroquine misinformation

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CNN host Jim Sciutto took on White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Monday about his evangelism of the drug hydroxychloroquine.

During an interview with Navarro, Sciutto noted that Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Brett Giroir had recently said that there is no benefit in taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat COVID-19.

"Given your past public support for it," Sciutto said, "is it time for the administration to focus on proven treatments for COVID rather than one that has not been proven?"

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CNN

Oklahoma teacher threatened by COVID-19 regrets vote for Trump — and blasts his ‘failure of leadership’

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On Monday, CNN spoke with Nancy Shively, an Oklahoma special education teacher who wrote for USA TODAY that she regrets her 2016 vote for President Donald Trump.

"You spoke strongly and with feeling in this editorial," said anchor Jim Sciutto. "You said you fear now with the pandemic, you may have 'signed your own death warrant.' That's a remarkable thought to express."

"Well, just watching the failure of leadership in our country, beginning with the president, over the course of this pandemic, it's not just my death warrant I might have signed, but there's 150,000 Americans who are dead because of this," said Shively. "I have to take responsibility for my personal vote that enabled that."

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2020 Election

Trump has ‘confused’ his own voters about mail-in ballots — and GOP fears ‘turnout crisis’: report

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President Donald Trump's frequent attacks on mail-in voting have made his own voters far less likely to take advantage of filing absentee ballots -- and the Washington Post reports that GOP operatives fear it could create a "turnout crisis."

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill tells the Post that he recently met with a group of Republican voters who traditionally send their ballots through the mail, but were now reluctant to do so thanks to the president's regular attacks on the system.

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