Bayer Settles With Rice Farmers Over GMO Seed

Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation outside Pittsburgh, has agreed to pay up to $750 million to long-grain rice growers. This came after farmers claimed that the company contaminated their crops with genetically modified seed. The Allegheny Front's Catherine Piccoli explains.

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OPEN: Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of Bayer Corporation outside Pittsburgh, has agreed to pay up to $750 million to long-grain rice growers. This came after farmers claimed that the company contaminated their crops with genetically modified seed. The Allegheny Frontís Catherine Piccoli explains.

PICCOLI: Several lawsuits have been brought against Bayer CropScience since 2006. That was the year the company's genetically modified rice accidentally made its way into the food supply. The rice has not been approved for human consumption by the U-S Agriculture Department. Members of the European Union quickly banned long-grain rice imports from the US, causing prices to drop and farmers in rice-growing regions to lose money and file suit against the company.

Settlement funds will be available for all farmers who grew long-grain rice between 2006 and 2010, even those who did not file lawsuits. Bayer said such inclusion is--quote--"crucial to demonstrating the company's long-term commitment to rice"--end quote. Don Downing is a St. Louis-based attorney who has represented farmers in these suits since 2006.

DOWNING: Six different juries in these cases have found that Bayer was not careful, and in fact was negligent, in its handling of its genetically modified rice seeds prior to the time it was approved for human consumption.

PICCOLI: Enough farmers to represent at least 85 percent of long-grain rice acreage must submit claims before Bayer will pay. Downing said he's cautiously optimistic that they will be able to reach that threshold. For the Allegheny Front, I'm Catherine Piccoli.