Monsanto, seed-corn companies continue use of contractors despite allegations of migrant labor abuses

Each year, seed-corn companies like Monsanto bring in thousands of laborers to produce their hybrid corn seeds, most of which are genetically modified.

The companies sell the seeds to farmers worldwide, in what has become an $11-billion GMO corn industry. The farmers grow the seeds into corn for sale as food, ethanol, livestock feed and components of a range of industrial products, from fireworks to ceiling tiles.

In a two-year investigation of GMO seed-corn production, the Champaign, Ill.-based Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found repeated allegations of labor violations over the past decade against Monsanto, its counterpart DuPont Pioneer, other seed companies and the companies’ contractors.

A review of federal documents, lawsuits and Monsanto records — and interviews with advocates and experts — shows that the allegations include broken recruiting promises, minimum-wage violations, improperly withheld pay and substandard living conditions in seed-corn production of Monsanto and Pioneer.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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