A federal jury in St. Louis has ordered Bayer Cropscience to pay $1.5 million in damages to two Arkansas farmers and one Mississippi farmer due to the losses the farmers sustained when Bayer’s experimental genetically modified rice cross-bred with their crops.
This case comes on the heels of a $2 million verdict in a similar case in December, 2009. These are two of the five “bellwether trials” in federal court involving rice litigation and farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The outcome of these five trials will have a tremendous impact on the country’s entire agriculture industry; there are more than 3,000 cases pending.
Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton is representing more than 1,500 rice farmers in Arkansas. The first round of Arkansas cases for Hare Wynn is scheduled to be tried on March 15, 2010 in the Circuit Court for Lonoke County, Arkansas.
Two conscientious juries have now considered all of the evidence, along with every defense Bayer has to offer, “states Scott Powell, trial counsel for the plaintiffs and partner at Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. “Both juries have found Bayer guilty of negligently contaminating the commercial supply U. S. Long Grain rice. These bellwether decisions are great news for the rice farmers in Arkansas and other areas of the country. We believe this sends a clear signal that these rice farmers will continue to prevail as the next phase of trials moves into the state courts of Arkansas.”
Despite assurances from Bayer Cropscience about the safety of their genetically altered product, the markets reacted badly. The European Union and many foreign countries that routinely buy rice from the United States will not accept genetically engineered food crops.
We look forward to trying additional jury cases for our rice farming clients and will continue to press the issue with Bayer Cropscience,” said Powell. “These farmers deserve to receive compensation for the economic losses they have suffered in the past, this month, next month and on into the future. They have lost income but not hope because of today’s decision regarding Bayer’s contamination of the rice supply with genetically modified rice.”
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