Verdict in Missouri Court Cause For Optimism For Arkansas Rice Farmers

Genetically Engineered Rice Eliminated Rice Markets and Reduced Farmer’s Income

A verdict today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in St. Louis, Missouri is a welcome and encouraging sign for more than 1,400 Arkansas rice farmers who have filed a similar suit against Bayer CropScience. The jury in the Missouri case awarded full market value to two plaintiffs today in a verdict that could have a considerable impact in Arkansas, particularly for the state’s rice farmers who have suffered shattering losses caused by Bayer’s mishandling of GMO rice. The first round of Arkansas cases is scheduled to be tried on March 15, 2010, in the Circuit Court for Lonoke County, Arkansas.

In recent years, there has been considerable experimentation with strains of “genetically engineered” (GE) crops, including rice. A strain of rice can now be genetically modified to make it immune to a certain type of poison or herbicide. Many foreign countries that buy rice and food crops from the U.S. will not accept GE crops. For example, the European Union (“EU”) will not accept GE or GE-contaminated rice from the U.S.

On August 18, 2006, the USDA announced that GE Rice had been found in the U.S. commercial long grain rice supply. As a result, the EU and other markets would no longer buy U.S. long grain rice and the farmers suffered a decrease in the value of their rice. The loss of such a major market as the EU is significant. In 2005, EU countries purchased more than 200,000 tons of U.S. long grain rice. Lawyers for the rice farmers allege that the farmers have continued to suffer losses as a result of the GE contamination, because the EU, Japan, and other markets have continued their resistance to U.S. long grain rice.

The complaint details seven counts against the defendants including negligence, fraudulent concealment, ultrahazardous activity, absolute or strict liability, punitive damages, statutory negligence, and breach of contract.

Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton LLP, is a plaintiffs’ firm in Alabama with offices in Little Rock. The firm has more than a century of experience and a successful history of assisting Arkansas farmers. In 2005, the firm resolved a case against Tyson Foods for $42.5 million on behalf of a large group of hog farmers in Arkansas. Hare Wynn is currently providing representation to more than 100 chicken farmers against Pilgrim’s Pride.


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