Pressinfo from 9 December 2009
The district court of St. Louis awarded nearly 2 million US$ in damages to two farmers whose rice harvests had been contaminated by genetically modified strains of the Bayer CropScience AG. The trial is seen as a test run for up to 3000 cases of rice farmers having suffered damages in the US states of Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi.
“This is a great success for all US-American farmers who suffered damages because of contamination through Liberty Link,“ said Johnny Hunter, one of the two plaintiffs. “I very much hope that this verdict forces the BAYER company to cease their irresponsible trial programmes,” Hunter continues. The jury described the company’s safety measures as “negligent” and upheld almost completely the demands made by Hunter. Adam Levitt, one of the plaintiff’s lawyers, expects that compensation to the tune of several hundred millions US$ will be paid out. The next trials will take place in January.
In 2006 genetically modified long grain rice, which is resistant against the highly dangerous herbicide glyphosinate (Liberty Link rice), appeared in supermarkets worldwide, despite the fact that at that time this strain had not been approved anywhere. Approximately 30% of the US harvest had been contaminated, which led the EU and Japan to stop rice imports from North America. According to a Greenpeace study the damages sustained by the affected farmers amounted to 1.2 billion US$. A few years previously BAYER and Louisiana State University conducted outdoor experiments with the genetically manipulated strain, during which outcrossing probably occurred. The exact course of events could not be clarified despite several years of investigation.
Philipp Mimkes of the Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren (CBG) said: “We welcome the verdict of the court in St. Louis and call on BAYER to immediately compensate all the farmers who suffered damages. In addition to that we call on the European Union to refuse authorisation for import of Liberty Link rice. The EU must not ignore the ecological and social risks of GMO rice in the countries which might potentially grow it.” Moreover, Mimkes challenged the German government to prevent a dilution of EU regulations on the contamination of food with GMO organisms. This was hinted at in the coalition treaty.
The BAYER corporation already applied in 2003 to import rice of the strain Liberty Link 62 into the EU. The application was rejected several times when voted on in the EU council of ministers, but has so far not been withdrawn. Because of the risks of GMO rice for the environment, consumers and farmers, Coordination gegen BAYER-Gefahren (CBG) has tabled counter motions at the BAYER annual shareholder meeting on several occasions. Once again the case of the aggrieved farmers shows that the cultivation of GMO rice unavoidably leads to contamination and the displacement of traditional rice strains. In the case of large scale cultivation this would result in a greater occurrence of pests and a greater use of dangerous pesticides.
Source: GenReis: BAYER muss Schadenersatz leisten
Original article published on Dec. 9, 2009
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Susanne Schuster is a member of Tlaxcala, the international network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, translator and reviser are cited.
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