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Dec 4, 2009

$2M Awarded to U.S.Farmers in Bayer GM Rice Contamination Trial

Bloomberg News reports that the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) has ruled that German-based Bayer CropScience LP must pay two Missouri farmers approximately US$2 million for contaminating their rice crops with it LibertyLink gene modified (GM) rice.

In Re Genetically Modified Rice Litigation, Case 06-md-01811, a jury awarded the farmers $2 million in compensatory damages, not the punitive damages of $80 million requested by the prosecution.

LibertyLink GM Rice is herbicide tolerant to Bayer CropScience's herbicide LibertyLink.  This GM rice was approved for experimental testing in the United States by the USDA.  Field tests were being conducted Bayer and Louisiana State University at a facility in Crowley, Louisiana.  In August 2006, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found trace amounts of the LibertyLink GM rice in U.S. long-grain rice stocks.

According to a consolidated complaint filed by farmers, their incomes were damaged because "[w]ithin four days of the 2006 USDA announcement, rice futures plunged, costing U.S. growers about $150 million. ... Exports fell as the European Union, Japan, Russia and other overseas markets slowed purchases of U.S.-grown long-grain rice for testing or stopped importing it."

Thre are more than 1,000 similar cases pending involving LibertyLink GM Rice and Bayer CropScience filed by farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

While the USDA later approved Bayer CropScience’s biotech rice to be grown and sold for human consumption, it hasn’t been commercially marketed.

Bayer CropScience contends that the USDA has never determined how the LibertyLink GM rice had entered the nation’s long-grain rice supply.

For more see: Whittington, Joe and Andrew M. Harris. "Bayer Must Pay Farmers for Contaminated Rice Crop," Bloomberg News, 4 December 2009.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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