CHARLESTON -- West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw has filed a lawsuit against the Monsanto Company for refusing to cooperate with his office's investigation of the sale of soybeans.
In its civil enforcement action filed Monday, McGraw's office said the soybeans in question tolerated the application of Roundup-brand weed killer.
Roundup, generically known as glyphosate, is a weed killer patented by Monsanto, which is headquartered in St. Louis, Mo.
Glyphosate-tolerant soybeans may make up as much as 90 percent of all soybeans grown in the United States, the attorney general's office said.
Monsanto also owns the patents on genetically modified, glyphosate-tolerant soybeans.
McGraw's office said Monday the company is now selling a second-generation soybean known as Roundup Ready 2 Yield. Patents on the first generation seeds will expire in 2014.
To promote its second generation of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto has advertised that the Roundup Ready 2 Yield plants have an increased yield of 7 to 11 percent over similar varieties of the first-generation plants, his office said.
"I want to ensure there is a fair marketplace for West Virginia farmers," McGraw said in a statement. "They need to know if it is worth extra money to buy new products that may not live up to the hype."
Farmers located in the eastern Panhandle and along the Ohio River in West Virginia grow soybeans commercially.
McGraw said he began his investigation of Monsanto and its advertising when several published tests showed the results claimed by the company may not support its advertising for Roundup Ready 2 Yield, which are priced significantly higher than the first-generation seeds.
The attorney general's suit asks the court to order to enjoin Monsanto from selling any of its products in West Virginia until such time as it fully complies with the subpoena.