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GM Rice

Stuttgart Daily Leader , Feb 28, 2011

Florida professor: Bayer responsible for contamination

Stuttgart, Ark. — Bayer executive Scott Johnson’s video deposition was played for the jury Friday in the case of Riceland Foods against Bayer Crop Science. Johnson was the U.S. rice breeder and development manager of the Liberty Link Rice Project for Bayer from 1997 until 2005. Riceland’s counsel questioned Johnson on the company’s containment practices.
Johnson told the jury the company followed the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines during its testing phase. According to Johnson, there were field trials in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Puerto Rico.
Riceland’s attorneys produced exhibits showing the company possibly considered doing the field trials “in house,” which could have been more regulated, but also more expensive.
“It happened, but we don’t know how,” Johnson said about the genetically-modified rice contaminating the U.S. rice supply.
On Aug. 18, 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that genetically-modified (GM) rice was found in the U.S. long grain rice supply. It was Bayer’s Liberty Link rice, which consists of several varieties, that was found.
The end result was a loss to the rice market due to the European Union (EU) market being shut off to the U.S. The EU consists of 27 countries and does not accept GM rice.
Riceland is claiming the negligence of Bayer Crop Science in the handling of genetically-modified rice cost them $379,930,000 in projected future losses and losses since 2006.
The trial began Tuesday in the Arkansas County Circuit Courthouse in Stuttgart and resumed at 9 a.m. today.
In opening statements, attorneys for Bayer told the jury that Riceland knew the EU had a zero tolerance policy for GM rice. Bayer claims Riceland continued to ship barges after knowing that a trace amount of the GM rice was detected, resulting in the loss of the market.
Riceland also called University of Florida professor Harry Klee to testify as an expert witness in plant biology, field trials and transgenic (GM) plants. Klee said the first field test done on GM plants was held in 1986.
“When you are done with the experiment there (should be) no trace on the environment,” Klee said about the end result of a field trial.
Klee read through thousands of internal Bayer documents and was paid for his services at the rate of $400 an hour, according to Riceland attorneys.
“I don’t think they (Bayer) complied with reasonable standards — I believe they were responsible,” Klee said.
Klee was asked to pin point how the contamination occurred, but told the jury he could not.
“The USDA spent 8,000 hours investigating this and they couldn’t verify,” Klee said.
The Daily Leader will pick back up with coverage of the trial in Wednesday’s edition. By Leigh Kreimeier

Stuttgart Daily Leader, 24.02.2011

RICELAND CALLS FIRST WITNESSES IN CASE

Stuttgart, Ark. — On Wednesday, attorneys for Riceland Foods, Inc., called their first witness in the case of Riceland Foods, Inc. against Bayer Crop Science, starting with Bayer’s previous and current executives.

Riceland Foods Inc. is claiming the negligence of Bayer Crop Science in the handling of genetically-modified rice cost them $379,930,000 in projected future losses and losses since 2006.

The trial began Tuesday in the Arkansas County Circuit Courthouse in Stuttgart and resumed at 9 a.m. today.

On Aug. 18, 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that genetically-modified rice was found in the U.S. long grain rice supply. It was Bayer’s Liberty Link rice, which consists of several varieties, that was found.

In opening statements, attorneys for Bayer told the jury that Riceland knew the European Union (EU) had a zero tolerance policy for genetically-modified rice (GMO). Bayer claims Riceland continued to ship barges after knowing that a trace amount of the GMO was detected, resulting in the loss of the market.

During the course of the day, Riceland counsel questioned Bayer executives about what they referred to as the, ”Starlink Disaster.” All testimony from Bayer executives was done by video deposition, which is previously recorded testimony under oath.

In 2001 Starlink, a genetically-modified corn variety, was found in taco shells, which led to recalls of corn-based foods. Exports of corn plummeted and the price of corn itself fell. The maker of Starlink was the Aventis company, which was later purchased by Bayer.

The Aventis company also handled the Liberty Link varieties before Bayer purchased the company. Riceland entered into a contract with Bayer and stored the experimental seed at its Weiner facility, but later the seed was destroyed after it was deemed not viable.

Liberty Link’s rice varieties were being developed to coincide with Liberty Link herbicide. The rice was supposed to help with red rice, which is regarded to as a weed. It was also planned to be a more efficient seed for the farmer. If Bayer had been able to commercialize the seed, they stood to make substantial money. But this was only if the seed was accepted, which all varieties were not.

Bayer did field trials with the Liberty Link varieties in Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas.

According to Riceland, the contamination ended with an alleged cover up by Bayer, with the end result being a tremendous loss to the rice market due to the European Union (EU) market being shut off to the U.S. The EU consists of 27 countries and does not accept GMO rice.

According to testimony, Bayer was not the only company experimenting with genetically-modified rice. Monsanto and Syngenta were also experimenting during the this time frame, but it was the Liberty Link traits that were discovered.

After the Bayer executives, Terry Richardson, who has been with Riceland Foods for 35 years was called to the stand. His testimony was not complete and will resume Thursday.