Louisiana farmers settle suit on genetically modified rice

This article was published in The Times-Picayune on July 10, 2011.

After years of court battles, Louisiana rice farmers will finally recoup some of their losses stemming from one of the largest genetically modified seed contaminations ever.



Bayer CropScience, the German biotech conglomerate, agreed last week to pay $750 million in damages to 11,000 rice farmers in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri.

The settlement aims to compensate for Bayer’s 2006 accidental leak of a genetically engineered strain of rice into the U.S. rice supply, which rendered billions of dollars’ worth of the crop unfit for export to most countries.

“We lost a lot of money,” said John Owen, a rice farmer in Rayville, who, along with 450 other Louisiana farmers, is seeking damages for the losses his farm suffered, which he values at 15 percent of his annual net revenues. “I think the settlement will be welcomed. I don’t know that it’ll make everyone completely whole, but it’s a step in the right direction. Some farms had to go out of business.”

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