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Press Release, February 1, 2010
Coalition against Bayer Dangers

Staple food endangered: EU urged not to approve Bayer´s GM Rice

great Greenpeace clip:

The Coalition against Bayer Dangers urges European authorities to refuse an import approval for Liberty Link Rice (LL62) produced by Bayer CropScience. LL62 has been modified with a gene that makes the plant tolerant to glufosinate, a weed-killer produced by Bayer under the brands Basta and Liberty. An approval of this modified rice strain would pose unknown risks for human health and the environment.

Glufosinate is to be phased out in Europe due to its hazardous nature. The herbicide is classified as toxic for reproduction and can also cause birth defects. With LL62, usage levels for glufosinate would increase, also increasing the likelihood of herbicide residues on the rice itself.

A European approval would also allow Bayer to promote GM rice cultivation in developing countries, especially in Asia. This would inevitably lead to genetic contamination of existing rice cultivation, to poisoning of peasants and to the elimination of local rice strains. Europe has a strong moral obligation to take these developments into account when assessing LL62.

Bayer already applied in 2003 to import LL62. The application was rejected several times when voted on in the EU council of ministers, but has so far not been withdrawn. Bayer is also pushing for legal approval in Brazil, South Africa, India and the Philippines. In the USA, LL62 has already been permitted for commercial planting, although farmers in the US are reluctant to plant it because it is not approved for import elsewhere in the world. EU import approvals so far have mainly been granted for genetically manipulated feed crops. Liberty Link rice would be the first GM product intended directly for human food use.

Philipp Mimkes from the Coalition against Bayer Dangers, an international network that has been monitoring Bayer for more than 30 years: “Allowing the import of Liberty Link Rice would give the green light to multinationals to promote this unsustainable form of farming in developing countries. The world`s most important staple food must not fall into the hands of companies like Bayer.” The Coalition has introduced several countermotions on the issue at Bayer´s annual shareholder meetings in recent years.

In July 2006, Bayer LL601, a similar rice variety that was not approved for commercial distribution or human consumption anywhere in the world, appeared in supermarkets worldwide. According to a Greenpeace study the damages amounted to 1.2 billion US$. In December 2009 Bayer was sentenced to pay about $2 million for losses sustained by two US farmers. The verdict of the federal court in St. Louis is seen as a test run for up to 3000 cases brought by other rice farmers in the US. "We call for the stringent application of the precautionary principle with regard to GM rice. The incident in the US shows that risks linked with genetically modified crops cannot be controlled in the long term", Mimkes adds.


Jury awards farmers $48 million in genetic rice suit

A jury awarded almost $48 million in compensatory and punitive damages to 12 Lonoke County farmers Thursday when it ruled that Bayer Crop Sciences had been negligent in the release of unapproved genetically modified rice into the commerical rice crop in 2006. The discovery of a small amount of Liberty Link rice in shipments to the European Union, where there is a zero tolerance for genetically modified material, effectively shut down the EU market and caused harm to the farmers, the plaintiffs argued. The jury found that Bayer Crop Sciences, Bayer AG (the parent company) and its various entities were negligent and had acted with "reckless disregard," in their handling of the LL 601 and LL604.

"Justice has been done," attorney Jim Thompson said. "The jury system works."

This is the fourth case against Bayer that has gone to trail and in all of them juries have found Bayer at fault. There is still a class action suit that has not gone to trial and Arkansas County farmers are involved in that case.By Christina Verderosa

June 18 2010,

Settlement reached in one GM rice suit ; court issues order in another

The Bayer defendants and several plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation (MDL) before a federal court in Missouri have filed a joint motion to dismiss their case, because the parties have settled claims that Bayer's genetically modified (GM) rice contaminated plaintiffs' conventional crops, which were exported to Europe. In re: Genetically Modified Rice Litig., MDL No. 1811 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Mo., E. Div., motion filed June 3, 2010). According to a news source, Bayer agreed to pay $5.8 million to Riviana Foods Inc. and its affiliates. Said to be a first in this MDL proceeding, the settlement is not intended to affect any other litigation currently pending against Bayer and does not resolve claims that Riviana expects to pursue against Bayer should its European customers prevail in litigation against both Bayer and Riviana. See Product Liability Law 360, June 4, 2010.

Meanwhile, on June 7, the MDL court issued an order that addresses the motions for summary judgment filed in a GM rice case set for trial June 21, involving two groups of Louisiana-based plaintiffs. The court has limited to negligence the claims that will be tried and will not allow any of defendants' expert witnesses to contradict its finding as a matter of law that "regulations under the Plant Protection Act do not allow for low level or adventitious presence of regulated genetically modified rice in the commercial rice supply." Among matters that will be litigated are certain agency and joint venture liability issues, as well as "share-rent landlord damages." The court also granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims for punitive damages, finding them unavailable under applicable state law. Mark Anstoetter and Madeleine McDonough

Feb 8, Media release on behalf of farmers' attorneys



A St. Louis, Mo. jury today found Germany-based Bayer Cropscience AG and several of its affiliates negligent in the second of several "bellwether trials" scheduled for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and awarded a total of $1.5 million to two Arkansas long-grain rice farmers and one in Mississippi whose crops and their livelihood, the jury determined, were harmed by Bayer's genetically modified rice.

Joe and Jim Penn, of Portia, Ark., were awarded $480,692 in compensatory damages and fellow Arkansas rice farmer Jerry Catt, of Corning, Ark., was awarded $96,996 in compensatory damages. Black Dog Planting Co., of Lyon, Miss., represented by partner Gary Goode, was awarded $923,154 in compensatory damages.

The suit was brought on behalf of the rice farmers based on economic damages they suffered from contamination of their crops by an unapproved genetically modified strain of rice seed produced by Bayer. Discovery of the contamination led to a dramatic drop in U.S. rice prices, as the European Union stopped purchasing the U.S. rice. The farmers suffered economic loss due to the much lower demand for their rice since 2006, when the contaminated rice was discovered.

This trial, which began January 11, is the second of five scheduled "bellwether" – or test - trials scheduled by U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry that involves rice farmers in Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. These trials represent the first step Perry ordered in hearing the multi-district litigation involving some 6,000 rice producers in those five states.

St. Louis attorney Don Downing, of the firm Gray, Ritter & Graham, was the plaintiffs’ lead attorney in the first two cases and is co-lead counsel of the multi-district litigation.

"We're pleased that another jury returned verdicts in favor of our clients and their family farming operations. A second consecutive verdict against Bayer should send a clear and strong message to the company about its negligent conduct and the damages that conduct actually caused to American rice farmers, not only in this case but in the other matters that are scheduled for trial," Downing said.

The jury used the same formula in awarding compensatory damages due to the price drop for all plaintiffs. The awards varied because they were based on the number of acres each farmer planted and the impact of the contamination on their land.

More test trials involving Bayer and rice farmers are scheduled for this summer in the same federal courtroom and will include farmers from Louisiana and Texas.

see also:
· US: BAYER ordered to pay damages
· India: Bayer, Hands off our Rice
· Take Glufosinate off the Market immediately!
· Open Letter to the European Food Safety Authority
· Reject Bayer's application to import genetically modified rice into the EU

Brasil de Fato, January 7-13

Science According to CTNBio

By Verena Glass

It is possible that Brazil may gain a sad new title in 2010: the first country in the world to license the commercial planting of a new variety of genetically-modified rice, Bayer’s LL62. If CTNBio (National Technical Commission on Biosecurity) approves the proposal at a meeting later this month, the rice will be the 20th genetically-modified product grown commercially in the country.

CTNBio has maintained a steady flow of approval of GMO (genetically-modified organisms) licensing requests over the last years. Between 2005 and 2009, CTNBio gave licensing for two varieties of soy, eleven varieties of corn and six of cotton. There seems to be little doubt that the commission will continue this trend and approve the rice, except for one thing: this time there is a generalized opposition to the rice from various sectors, such as researchers, consumer groups, environmental groups, and even groups that have traditionally been pro-transgenic, such as Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Company, a public entity which has supported GMOs), Farsul (Agricultural Federation of Rio Grande do Sul), and Federarroz (Federation of Rice Grower Associations of Rio Grande do Sul).

According to Embrapa and Southern rice farmers, the major threat of Bayer’s rice is the possible transference of a genetic mutation of red rice, with is considered the most invasive plant of irrigated rice farming. With contamination, this plant, which already causes damages to productivity and quality of the rice in areas which are highly infested, will become resistant to chemical control. In other words, according to Embrapa, if transgenic rice is licensed, it will be a threat to food security, capable of contaminating other varieties of rice in the country.

Thus, if researchers (concerned with scientific evaluations), producers (concerned with economic questions), and consumers (concerned with what they eat--Greenpeace has already gathered 20,000 signatures against the transgenic rice) are opposed to the proposal, then one could ask the question, To whom is the CTNBio catering if it votes in favor of Bayer’s rice? Perhaps it would be imprudent to suggest that the sales of multinational transgenic companies is related to the licensing of GMOs in Brazil. But the fact is, according to Exame magazine, Monsanto, which has had nine varieties of GMOs approved, earned in sales US$783.9 million in 2006, US$899.2 million in 2007, and US$954.8 million in 2008.

According to the Law of Biosecurity, the commission, created in 2005, was to “give technical and consultative support to the federal government in formulating, updating, and implementing the National Policy of Biosecurity, relative to GMOs, such as the establishment of technical norms and technical partners in regard to the protection of human health, other organisms and the environment, and activities which involve the construction, experimentation, farming, manipulation, transportation, commercialization, stocking, consuming, licensing and disposal of GMOs and their derivatives. “ In order for a GMO to obtain commercial licensing, fourteen of the 27 members of the commission must approve the product.

According to entities of civil society who have watched over the work of CTNBio, many of the technical analyses in the processes of licensing GMOs have lacked scientific rigor and have not followed the principles of caution as outlined in the Protocol of Cartagena regarding Biosecurity. In addition these processes have lacked research on national soil that proves the security of the commercial planting of the varieties that were licensed. On the contrary, a strong characteristic of the majority of the commission’s members is that they favor GMO technology. In 2003, eight of the current members of CTNBio wrote an open letter in which they affirmed that “Brazil cannot let go of transgenic technology” as it is “essential for sustainability and keeps agribusiness and small family farms competitive, and brings innumerous social and economic benefits to the country.”

Among current members, there are various who have or have had some personal relation with biotech companies or with the pro-transgenic lobby groups of Basf, Bayer, Cargill, Dow, Dupont, Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, and others.

Regarding observance of adequate scientific criteria in the process of licensing GMOs, or in the establishment of security norms for protection against contamination of non-transgenic fields by GMOs, CTNBio has been repeatedly challenged by diverse institutions. In 2007, the licensing of Bayer’s transgenic corn Liberty Link and Monsanto’s MON 810 (outlawed in France, Austria, Greece, Luxemburg, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Germany) was questioned by Anvisa (National Sanitation Agency) and Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Natural Resources). Both entities pointed out errors in the technical reports which were fundamental in the licensing. In the case of Bayer’s corn, Anvisa pointed out the insufficient data around proof of the security of transgenic corn for human consumption. According to Ibama, CTNBio ignored the inexistence of environmental impact studies and an analysis of risk. The Minister of the Environment also pointed out the absence of “studies or literature which prove the absence of environment damage, something alone which should have impeded the licensing.”

Shortly after these denouncements were made, entities filed a civil suit which forced the Justice Department to demand of CTNBio the creation of norms which would in theory protect non-GMO corn fields from contamination. In this case, minimal distances were established to protect non-GMO corn fields from transgenic corn--20 to 100 meters depending on different types of barriers.

But over the past three years, various entities have reported the contamination of non-GMO corn fields. The Department of Inspection and Agriculture Defense officially confirmed these accusations in 2009, proving that the CTNBio’s norms are inadequate. “The preliminary reports indicate that under the present norms it is impossible to secure the coexistence of GMO fields, conventional fields, and organic fields, as at the present moment all areas monitored show cross-pollination at a distance much greater than the current norm provides,” affirmed the Secretary of Agriculture.

Given this information, at the end of October 2009, various organizations of civil society promoted a civil law suit that ask for the suspension of the licensing for commercially planted transgenic corn until an adequate norm can be established. The suit currently is awaiting a decision from a judge in Parana.

In response to this issue, a representative of the Science and Technology Ministry, Luiz Antonio Barreto de Castro, acknowledged the contamination of non-GMO corn, but stated, “the norms of CTNBio were established taking into consideration that not always would the contamination result in damage for the farmers who produce varieties called heirlooms…even if contamination occurs, it will be to the advantage of the farmer.” But contrary to Castro’s assertion, damages caused by contamination from GMO fields are recurrent in Brazil and in the rest of the world. In 2004, for example, Eco Brazil Organics Ltda in the state of Parana had its production paralyzed after their fields were contaminated--three million dollars worth of damage. In 2006, Bayer’s experimental fields for transgenic rice contaminated conventional fields and caused damages of one billion dollars around the world, according to a report issued by Greenpeace International.

CTNBio’s generosity towards transgenic has already had its collateral effects. Biotech companies originally argued that their technology would mean less use of chemicals and pesticides. Yet one study shows that the use of herbicides on soy, for example, has actually increased. In 2004, 129.6 thousand tons of herbicides were poured into soy fields. In 2008 the volume was raised to 192 thousand tons. It is important to remember here that Brazil has become the biggest world consumer of agricultural chemicals, using nearly 673,890 tons per year. The collateral effects of this: 6.3 thousand cases of human intoxication in 2007 resulting in 162 deaths.

Arkansas Democrat Gazette, March 10, 2010

Bayer ordered to pay farmer $1 million is tab for modified rice


A jury in Woodruff County Circuit Court decided Monday evening that Bayer CropScience LP must pay more than $1 million in compensatory and punitive damages to Lenny Joe Kyle, a rice farmer, for losses he sustained when Bayer’s experimental variety of genetically modified rice infiltrated the rice supply.
The jury awarded Kyle $532,643 in compensatory damages, and $500,000 in punitive damages. This is the third verdict against Bayer CropScience in rice lawsuits, but the first to award punitive damages.
“Obviously, we’re satisfied that the jury paid careful attention and understood the facts and decided that exemplary, or punitive, damages were warranted over and above the compensation, and we think that’s significant.