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Bayer's GM rice defeat
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Bayer's GM rice defeat

Bayer's GM rice defeat
News

Bayer's GM rice defeat

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Nature Biotechnology 29, 473 (2011) doi:10.1038/nbt0611-473c - Published online 07 June 2011

In a lawsuit over genetically modified (GM) modified rice, jury members in an Arkansas circuit court ruled in March in favor of Riceland Foods of Stuttgart, Arkansas, a rice milling and exporting company, and against Bayer CropScience of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and Monheim, Germany. The jury recommended that Bayer pay Riceland $136.8 million—$125 million in punitive damages and $11.8 million in compensatory damages—calling Bayer negligent for allowing traces of its genetically engineered Liberty Link, herbicide-tolerant experimental rice to mix with commercial lots of long grain rice in 2006. Back then, Mike Johans, then secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, said: “There are no human health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with this [GM Liberty Link] rice.” Nonetheless, Riceland brought suit, claiming “loss of the European Union market,” which cost it $380 million in potential sales. Bayer counters that rice then destined for Europe “accounted for less than 5% of US-grown rice,” and “quickly was diverted and sold in other markets.” The company, which also points out that the jury-recommended award “exceeds what is permitted by Arkansas law and will therefore be limited to the statutory cap of $1 million,” says it will consider whether to appeal after the court issues its final rulings. Meanwhile, Liberty Link rice, which was not commercialized, is no longer being developed. Jeffrey L Fox

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