BALTIMORE (AP) -- Maryland's attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday against chemical company Monsanto and two spinoffs, alleging that chemicals Monsanto manufactured harmed the state's waters, fish and wildlife and seeking to recover damages and clean-up costs.
The lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City alleges that Monsanto knew as early as 1937 that polychlorinated biphenyls had systemic toxic effects in humans and animals, Attorney General Brian Frosh said in a news release.
"Monsanto not only continued to manufacture and sell PCBs but increased production even when the harm to the environment was undeniable," Frosh said in a statement. "Monsanto's toxic legacy lives on. Until today, Marylanders have borne the cost of cleaning up these poisons. It is time for Monsanto to take full responsibility."
Monsanto was the only U.S. company to manufacture PCBs for widespread commercial use between 1935 and 1977, when it ceased production two years before it was banned. The company knew PCBs don't naturally break down and touted their longevity, the suit alleges.
Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles called the suit an important step to help Maryland "make progress in preventing toxic pollution and recovering from decades of damage."
Bayer, Monsanto's parent company, said in a statement that the lawsuit is without merit. Monsanto stopped making PCBs "more than 40 years ago, and never manufactured, used, or disposed of PCBs into Maryland's lands or waters, and therefore should not be held liable for the contamination alleged by the state," Bayer said.