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Fertilizer plant

Texas fertilizer plant that exploded filed lawsuit against Monsanto in 2007

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: fertilizer plant, Monsanto, explosion

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(NaturalNews) New information has surfaced in the West, Texas, explosion case that could alter the course of the ongoing investigation into what caused the disaster. As it turns out, West Fertilizer Co., which used to be known as Texas Grain Storage Inc., filed a lawsuit under its former name against biotechnology giant Monsanto back in 2007, alleging that the company had engaged in anti-competitive behavior by artificially inflating prices for Roundup herbicide.

The lawsuit, which was poised to become a class action, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. Though it allegedly had nothing to do with the fertilizer portion of Texas Grain's business, the suit took direct aim at a major component of Monsanto's business, Roundup herbicide. During Roundup's "glory days" prior to its patent expiration in 2000, Monsanto raked in more than $1 billion annually. Today, Monsanto still generates around $700 million a year from Roundup sales.

And just how has Monsanto been able to maintain high sales and profits from Roundup in the face of multifarious competition following its patent expiration? The answer to this question was the subject of a hush-hush investigation initiated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against Monsanto several years after Texas Grain filed its lawsuit, and the goal was the same for both -- to bring to light the monopolistic and anti-competitive practices of Monsanto in artificially inflating the price of Roundup.

"The world's biggest seed developer is squeezing competitors, controlling smaller seed companies, and protecting it dominance over the multi-billion dollar market for genetically altered crops," wrote Associated Press (AP) investigator Christopher Leonard in a 2009 investigative report on the business practices of Monsanto.

Was foul play a factor in the West Fertilizer explosion?

How does this all tie back in with Texas Grain? The company, which had been buying and storing Roundup in a giant stainless steel tank since 1997 as part of a contract with Monsanto, apparently had the gall to call Monsanto out for stifling competition from generic Roundup producers. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Texas Grain had about 30 lawyers from 12 different firms pursuing a segment that has been estimated as constituting more than 10 percent of Monsanto's entire business.

"One lawyer who represented Texas Grain said the suit stalled in 2010 after a magistrate judge denied a request to certify the case as a class action," writes Alexandra Berzon for the WSJ. "The lawyer said Texas Grain appealed the ruling, and that a district judge has yet to rule on the appeal. The last public filing in the case was in 2010."

Because of its rich history of being settled by Czech immigrants, the Czech Republic has reportedly donated $200,000 to the town of West, Texas, to help it recover, according to TheWorld.org. And investigations are still ongoing as to the definitive cause of the blast, which killed 14 people and wounded more than 200, according to reports.

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