Lili variety of wheat

Monsanto has reached a settlement with farmers over the discovery of genetically modified wheat on a farm in Oregon, US.

The unexpected presence of the biotech company’s unlicensed GM wheat plants was detected on a farm in the western US state in May 2013.

The shock discovery resulted in temporary limits on certain exports of US soft white wheat.

See also: GM wheat found growing in US field

Wheat farmers in seven US states – Kansas, Missouri, Illnois, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana – had sought damages.

Under the settlement and without any admission of liability, Monsanto said it had agreed to make donations of $50,000 (£34,000) to the agricultural school at the land grant university in each state – $350,000 (£237,000) in total – “to further the interests of wheat farmers and the wheat industry”.

As part of the resolution of these claims, Monsanto will also reimburse plaintiffs and their counsel for a portion of their out-of-pocket costs and fees associated with this litigation.

“Rather than paying the costs of protracted litigation, this agreement puts that money to work in research and development efforts for the wheat industry,” said Kyle McClain, Monsanto chief litigation counsel.

“Resolution in this manner is reasonable and in the best interest of all of the parties.”

Louisiana lawyer Patrick Pendley, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in settling the cases, said: “We believe this is a unique and fair mechanism for resolving the claims of midwest and south-east wheat farmers.

“The settlement fairly and equitably resolves our clients’ claims in a manner that will benefit all wheat industry farmers in the states receiving donations.”

However, Monsanto said this settlement would not resolve pending claims pending by wheat growers in Arkansas who also filed suit.

Last November, Monsanto paid out nearly $2.4m (£1.6m) to settle lawsuits field by US farmers over the GM wheat discovery in Oregon.

The discovery of the wheat in the field in Oregon and how it got there remains a mystery.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) closed its investigation into the incident In September 2014 after concluding that it was an “isolated incident” and there was no evidence that GM wheat was being sold commercially.

No GM wheat is authorised for commercial growing in the US.