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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: Riceland (USA) calls first witnesses in case on rice GE contamination





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TITLE:   RICELAND CALLS FIRST WITNESSES IN CASE

SOURCE:  Stuttgart Daily Leader, USA

AUTHOR:  Leigh Kreimeier

URL:     http://www.stuttgartdailyleader.com/news/business/x345549382/Riceland-calls-first-witnesses-in-case

DATE:    24.02.2011

SUMMARY: "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. [...] In opening statements, attorneys for Bayer told the jury that Riceland knew the European Union had a zero tolerance policy for genetically-modified rice."

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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.