Riceland Foods is the largest rice cooperative in the U.S. The cooperative filed suit against the Bayer Corporation for damages it suffered as a result of Bayer's unapproved genetically-modified rice contaminating natural long-grain rice -- one of hundreds of similar lawsuits that have been filed against Bayer in federal and state courts.
As a result of this contamination, countries within the European Union refused to purchase U.S. long grain rice, and rice farmers and cooperatives lost millions of dollars in sales. They also incurred substantial clean-up costs.
According to the Jere Beasley Report:
"Riceland alleged in its lawsuit that the presence of Bayer's Liberty Link rice caused the cooperative to lose $389 million in projected and future earnings. The jury found that Bayer caused tremendous harm to Riceland and the entire industry and awarded Riceland $11.8 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages. The jury also found that Bayer was solely responsible for any damages incurred by farmers as a result of the loss of the European market."
In related news, a new electron microscopic pathogen in the shape of a medium-sized virus has been discovered, which appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.
In the video below, David Murphy of Food Democracy Now interviews Dr. Don Huber regarding the discovery of a new organism and how it relates to crop disease, livestock infertility and how it threatens U.S. food and agriculture.
On January 17, 2011, Dr. Huber sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack alerting him to a serious problem facing U.S. agriculture -- a previously unknown pathogen. Dr. Huber's letter revealed that a top team of scientists had discovered a link between the new pathogen, the steady rise of plant diseases in genetically modified Roundup Ready corn and soybean crops, and the high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions of animal livestock.
Riceland Foods, the largest rice cooperative in the U.S. filed suit against the Bayer Corporation after its natural long-grain rice was contaminated with Bayer's unapproved genetically-modified (GM) rice—and they won. The jury determined that Bayer caused "tremendous harm to Riceland and the entire industry," awarding Riceland $11.8 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages.
THOUSANDS of Lawsuits Filed against Bayer for GM Rice Contamination
As a result of the contamination with Bayer's unapproved experimental GM rice, countries within the European Union refused to purchase U.S. long grain rice, and American rice farmers and cooperatives lost $389 million in projected sales, not to mention the clean-up costs.
Riceland's suit was just one of about 3,000 of similar lawsuits filed against Bayer in recent years. In April of last year, Bayer CropScience was also ordered to pay a dozen Arkansas farmers nearly $50 million "for allowing a genetically altered strain of rice to escape into the commercial market, damaging rice prices in 2006," a Bloomberg Law article reported.
Bayer's GM rice, known as LibertyLink, was never approved for commercial planting; it's an experimental crop, meant to be sown for research purposes only. This is a perfect example of how easily things can go awry, and clearly illustrates the dangerous ripple-effect that is bound to occur whenever a GM crop is introduced.
There's simply NO way to avoid contamination!
Other biotech companies have also gotten into hot water over GM contamination in the European Union, where their products are banned for commercial planting.
GM Contamination Spreading Like Uncontained Wildfire
For example, in August of last year, the Food Freedom blog reported that the Irish government discovered they'd accidentally planted banned GM maize, originating from Monsanto. The contaminated seeds had been supplied by Pioneer Hi-Bred Northern Europe, a subsidiary of DuPont. Random tests by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DAFF), discovered that three out of 1,000 plants were contaminated by Monsanto's illegal GM maize, NK603, engineered to withstand otherwise lethal doses of the toxic herbicide RoundUp.
In order to protect surrounding farmers and organic farms, DAFF destroyed its maize crops before they started flowering, to prevent pollen drift.
However, there's still no telling the full extent of the GM contamination.
After all, it was only discovered through random testing. The seed had verified as "GM-free" by Pioneer Hi-Bred. Last year Monsanto's GM corn was also discovered across 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) in seven German states. Since Germany doesn't allow GM corn to be planted, the farmers had to destroy their crops. These farmers had to "eat" their losses, as the seed companies refused to accept liability for the contamination...
In 2007, pollen drift from GM maize (MON810) fields were also found to have contaminated hundreds of conventional and organic farmers in Spain, the only country in the EU that allows GM maize to be cultivated. A 2009 Greenpeace report documents the socioeconomic and human impacts of the contamination.
Part of the summary reads:
"The farmers' stories tell of an alarming reduction in the amount of organic maize being grown and the direct negative impacts that genetically modified organisms have on the population. These organic producers have voluntary opted out of the conventional or GM farming model, many out of dedication to the principles of sustainability.
Now, they face contamination from neighboring GM crops, even when they take measures to try to avoid cross pollination of the plants. For an organic farmer, genetic contamination is an unmitigated disaster. This report tells the stories of real people who have experienced losses not of their own making. Adding insult to injury, they often have to pay for testing or other protection measures themselves.
… There are no safeguards for MON 810 cultivation, and co-existence of GM and non-modified crops is impossible."
That's the reality of the situation, which is why we cannot rest on our laurels and must fight against the approval of each and every new GM crop. You cannot contain them. They absolutely WILL contaminate their conventional and organic counterparts.
This is also what makes the recent approval of GM alfalfa in the US so incredibly dangerous. The release of GM alfalfa quite literally threatens the entire organic industry, including organic meat, as alfalfa is the fourth most grown crop in the US, and is used to produce forage seed and hay to feed cows and other livestock.
Brand New GM Food Dangers have Emerged
Adding to this unmitigated disaster, research by Dr. Don M. Huber, an internationally recognized plant pathologist and professor emeritus at Purdue University, has unearthed new evidence of potential harm to both livestock and humans. On January 17, he alerted the federal government to a newly discovered organism related to GM corn and soy, which appears to be responsible for plant death, as well as infertility and spontaneous abortion in animals fed GM crops.
In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Huber urged the government to immediately stop deregulation of Roundup Ready crops, and to delay the approval of alfalfa until further research has been conducted.
The letter reads, in part:
"Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science! ... I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status.
In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency."
Unfortunately, his strong words fell on deaf ears, and GM alfalfa was approved anyway. I urge you to watch the video above, featuring Dr. Huber. In it he explains the science behind the new organism, and the threat it poses.
According to Dr. Huber:
"The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%."
"For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate (Roundup)."
Even the staunchest supporter of GM foods must be alarmed when they hear about a previously unheard of microscopic "hybrid" pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings.
How can anyone ignore such evidence?
Why is US Department of Agriculture Secretary Ignoring this Danger?
Unfortunately, our government officials are completely ignoring this urgent message, which is understandable when you consider that biotech companies like Monsanto have hijacked our political system and infiltrated all levels of policy making.
Tom Vilsack, for example, US Secretary of Agriculture is firmly entrenched with the biotech industry. He's a long-time supporter of genetically engineered crops, including bio-pharmaceutical corn, and was the founder and former chair of the Governor's Biotechnology Partnership. He's also a staunch supporter of animal cloning. Back in 2005, he pushed through the undemocratic and highly unpopular seed pre-emption bill, which strips local government's right to regulate genetically engineered seed (including where GE can be grown, maintaining GE-free buffers or banning GE corn locally).