Louisiana Farmers Settle Rice Lawsuit

Rice farmers in Louisiana recently settled a lawsuit over genetically modified crops produced and released in 2006. Bayer CropScience, a German biotech research company, has been experimenting with genetically modified rice crops for several years. The strain in question, which contaminated crops across the state, was designed to be weed resistant.

In addition to biotech research, Bayer’s Crowley farms also produce commercial seed supplies. In 2006, these two produces became intermingled, contaminating rice crops across the state and throughout the South.

Over the past several years, Louisiana rice production has been struggling. Currently, Louisiana is the third largest rice producer in the United States, and 2006 saw Louisiana farmers competing for markets with rice producers in Arkansas and Texas.

The rice contamination, however, left many farmers with unsellable crops, risking their overseas and domestic markets and costing them millions of dollars in lost sales. Especially problematic were the loss of EU markets, where production of genetically modified foods is strictly regulated.

While Bayer denies any wrongdoing, they hoped that the settlement will allow the company to move forward with its research. The genetically modified crops in questions, Bayer claims, are completely safe for human consumption.

The total settlement is about $750 million, with each farmer receiving roughly $380 per acres of contaminated fields.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer