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Detasseling Teen Exposed to Chemicals Calls His Termination ‘Unfair’

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NEWTON, Iowa - Last week dozens of teens from Newton claimed they may have been exposed to dangerous chemicals while detasseling corn in Marshall County. Now, one teen says he was punished for taking safety precautions into his own hands.

“I wasn’t mad or anything like that. It was just unnecessary because we have the right to say that we are not going to go back in that field,” says Isaiah Herdt.

Herdt and about 20 other teenagers were fired after they noticed a crop duster spraying chemicals on a nearby field and left the area as the chemicals drifted towards them.

“My group left the field and didn`t go back in because we knew if we were going to go further down in the field that you would have been exposed.”

The teen says his supervisor chastised him, telling him he should be embarrassed for not wanting to go back into the field. Monsanto employees on site say the area was safe and free of chemicals even though many detasselers could smell the chemical while others complained of headaches.

Herdt’s father says the firing was unfair and too harsh. “They're still in school and stuff and these kids haven`t really been put out in the work force and know some of the legal laws and safety they have to be in,” says Bill Herdt. He says safety should be supervisors’ top priority and feels Monsanto dropped the ball.


  • Ol' Perfessor Hacksaw

    Monsanto is like DUPONT, who coined the advertising phrase back in the 50’s “Better Living through Chemistry” while creating Agent Orange etc. Hunted on a farm in southern Iowa in the 7-;s where they lost a 6-7 year old son with the residue of some Ag chemistry ?

  • Joe Droppert

    What is delaying detasseling 3 days going to hurt? They could have gone back this a.m. when the chemicals had dissipated. Monsanto will be sending an apology letter out now that it is in the media. “Our workers safety comes first here at Monsanto”. ya right…

  • Patsy Anne

    Fired for refusing to be exposed to chemicals and the Monsanto Supervisors say it is SAFE? What a laugh…try lighting a cigarette in a public venue and see what happens! Just more blatant abuse and lies fed to us to support the use of more chemicals. These teens did the right thing…..

  • Don

    Good for WHO TV for giving this the publicity it deserves, and WHOtv deserves a tip of the hat for journalistic integrity, as Monsanto spends big $$$ on TV advertising

    Nice to see journalism that isn’t for sale

  • Joellen Jepson

    These chemicals are most likely designed to kill insects of some kind. I guarantee you they were not spraying water and vitamins! Exposing humans to these highly dangerous chemicals is potentially life threatening, but to fire these young workers for protecting themselves is just wrong! I applaud these kids for protecting themselves and I sure hope they have no lasting problems such as future child – bearing, future new allergies, skin problems, eye, lung, cancer problems. You should definitely consider wrongful firing with an attorney. They need to feel that what they did is WRONG! I have never sued anyone in my 50 years but when people mistreat children I feel they need to get hurt where it counts. Best wishes to you kids and your families.

  • clositblond

    My son was one of the boys working on this team that got fired. He’s only 15 and most the boys in his group are young teens. They were put in a very unsafe situation and I’m proud of them for standing up for themselves! It’s a shame that one of the lessons they have now learned in their young lives is that sometimes standing up for what’s right doesn’t get you the results you deserve.

  • Barbara Thomas

    Fired for using good judgement and self-preservation skills. Kudos to the intelligent teens who were wrongfully fired. If only Monsanto executives & US government decision makers would utilize discernment equal to that of these young people we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in.

  • harrisbock

    What about the prior chemicals already sprayed on the corn that mixes with the morning dew…Not to mention the toxins that are un-naturally occurring in their Frankenstein GMO products. Monsanto feeds poison to people, so of course they have no concern about sprayed toxins.

  • harrisbock

    The students should file a lawsuit against Monsanto for providing an unsafe and hostile work environment. A jury of parents…Monsanto would easily give them all a full seasons pay to make them go away. That would be less than petty cash for that company.

  • Shannon Jones

    To the parents of those teens. Ensure your children find no reason for regretting their actions. Make sure they are proud of what they did, and tell them to NEVER sacrifice safety for money unless they intend on being a stunt double or netless high flying acrobat. With over 25 years in industrial work I’ve paid the price of cheating safety for production, and there wasn’t a single time it was worth it. If you don’t take care of you, sooner than later there won’t be any you to take care of them.

  • Phil

    That is what the company going to say,they don’t want any lawsuit. I did corn one year and they didn’t care about our safety. It was a hot day,we were throwing up and getting sick but they would not let go to the bus. Don’t. Believe any thing being said

  • No More Tea Bags

    I want to know when these kids are get a class action suit started that will encompass ALL employees at these companies, (including contract employees). Brainsdead and the Repubes will try whatever they can to get it quashed.
    Get a lawyer and hurt them in the only place they can feel; the wallet.

  • Holly DeCovny

    They were absolutely justified in leaving the area to prevent chemical exposure. I applaud their intelligence, wisdom and resolve. This should go to court, indeed. BTW kids, always exit the building when the fire alarm sounds, and don’t listen to those who insist there can’t be a fire.

  • El3737

    “Unfair firing?” is your wimpy title? Wouldn’t “Monsanto Fires Teens For Fleeing Chemical Cloud” be a more appropriate title?

  • Maureen

    Please tell them they did the right thing ! many farm workers do not have this ability or luxury to walk away from unhealthy and dangerous working conditions .

  • peacedreamerllp

    The US media never covered international protests twice against Monsanto and their practices. They will keep happening until the word gets around. Many people have dumped their stocks in this corrupt company and many countries have banned GMO crops. They do not care about your health.

    • harrisbock

      Monsanto is too big in the food chain to stopped. It doesn’t matter if other countries ban GMOs because the USA never will. We even allow hormones in our livestock that other countries banned. There are plenty of profits in the US and other markets that accept GMOs. If Monsanto were shut down today, once the surplus of feed and seeds are used up, there would not be enough seed to go around. Food costs would skyrocket, farmers would not be able to feed their livestock, and hunger/starvation would occur. Sadly, we did this to ourselves by allowing it to get this far.

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