Bayer Settles GM Rice Contamination
Bayer CropScience has settled its lawsuits with 11,000 rice growers in the United States by agreeing to pay a total of $750 million. This was done to end the legal battle with rice growers who were damaged by lower prices after the USDA reported in August of 2006 that long-grain rice grown in the U.S. was tainted by trace levels of genetically modified rice strain, LibertyLink.
Bayer’s genetic modification was designed to allow rice to better tolerate Bayer’s Liberty-brand herbicide. During crossbreeding tests, the GM rice strain contaminated over 30% of the nation’s rice fields. Damaged croplands were located in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.
A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri by rice farmers said that after the The U.S.D.A.’s announcement, the rice futures market fell about 14%, costing the farmers about $150 million.
The GM testing occurred at a Louisiana State University-run facility in Crowley, Louisiana.
Upon the discovery of the contamination, Bayer officials characterized the GM contamination as an “act of God.”