On June 4, 2021, 57 Texas High Plains wine grape growers filed suit in Jefferson County District Court seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages from Bayer-Monsanto and BASF. The suit alleges that the chemical giants sold a defective genetically modified cotton seed system to Texas farmers, featuring a highly volatile weedkiller that moved miles off-target and crippled scores of vineyards across the state.
The suit says that in recent years, volatilizing dicamba applied to genetically modified cotton crops has damaged up to 95 percent of the productive grape vines on dozens of family-owned and operated vineyards covering 3,000 acres near Lubbock. The loss threatens the existence of many High Plains vineyards, which have taken decades to cultivate and account for 85 percent of the grapes produced, sold, or used by the state’s $13.1 billion wine industry.
“Over the past 30 years, through sweat and determination, these farmers have built the nation’s fifth largest wine industry,” said Adam Dinnell, partner at Schiffer Hicks Johnson PLLC of Houston, one of the law firms representing the grape growers. “But Bayer-Monsanto has turned this Texas success story into an economic and environmental nightmare through duplicity and greed.”