EXTRACT: The suit alleges that during field-testing from 1998 through 2001, LSU and Bayer failed to take action to prevent the contamination of conventional rice with "LLRICE" through cross-pollination or commingling during planting, harvesting, handling, storage, transportation and disposal, resulting in the contamination of the entire U.S. supply.
Comment posted on the Beauregard Daily News site: "What this articles doesn't mention is why Mr. Habetz might not want GM rice types contaminating his rice crop -- other nations don't want GM crops -- no matter how "safe" Monsanto, Bayer, the USDA claim it is. So if Mr. Habetz wants his rice to be saleable overseas, he wants to avoid contamination. Besides Monsanto has sued farmers for violating their patents when pollen from Monsanto crops has blown onto the farmer's property. Yet Monsanto, et al initially claimed the pollen contamination etc., would never happen. Hope Mr. Habetz wins." - azurite
Rice farmer claims research contaminated crop
BY HATTIE SHERRICK-BURTON
Beauregard Daily News, August 29 2007
A Beauregard Parish rice farmer is suing the board of supervisors of Louisiana State University and Bayer CropScience, the developer of genetically modified rice, for allegedly contaminating the U.S. rice crop and causing harm to his farm.
Farmer Kenneth Habetz is seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
Habetz filed his suit in 36th Judicial District Court on Aug. 17. It claims negligence, nuisance and trespassing following the contamination of the U.S. rice supply by the genetically modified, long-grain "LLRICE" or Liberty Rice.
According to the suit, the board of supervisors contracted with Bayer to field test the rice, which is grown to be resistant to the active ingredient in the Bayer product Liberty@Herbicide, at an LSU-operated Rice Research Station two miles east of Crowley.
The suit alleges that during field-testing from 1998 through 2001, LSU and Bayer failed to take action to prevent the contamination of conventional rice with "LLRICE" through cross-pollination or commingling during planting, harvesting, handling, storage, transportation and disposal, resulting in the contamination of the entire U.S. supply.
Genetically engineered rice has been modified so that it is resistant to herbicide. On Aug. 18, 2006, an announcement was made to U.S. rice farmers that trace amounts of genetically engineered rice had been found throughout the Southern U.S.
It was concluded at the time, however, that there was no health, food safety or environmental concerns associated with the U.S. rice.
According to the suit, while all biotechnology products in the country are required to undergo testing by the USDA and other food safety agencies, such approval was not sought by Bayer until more than one strain of the rice was confirmed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to be found in rice supplies destined for human consumption and export.
Habetz claims that his farming operation suffered as a result of the contamination.
He alleges that he and other farmers were faced with increased costs due to the need to maintain the integrity of their rice supply, and for their efforts to keep "LLRICE" from further entering supplies.
According to USDA estimates for the 2006 crop year, rice production in the U.S. was valued at $1.88 billion, approximately half of which was expected to be exported.
The U.S. also provides about 12 percent of the world rice trade.
Habetz grew rice on approximately 600 acres of Beauregard Parish farmland during the relevant time periods and, according to the suit, has never knowingly grown "LLRICE."
According to the USDA, Louisiana has the second largest area devoted to long-grain rice production, accounting for about 20 percent of the acreage devoted to long-grain rice production, as well as 16 percent of the long-grain production in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Rice Federation, Bayer CropScience has developed many genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant products with the protein called "Liberty Link," including corn, soybeans, canola and cotton, some of which are grown in the U.S. Bayer has developed three rice products, two of which have been thoroughly evaluated and declared safe for use in food, safe in the environment and approved for production. Neither of these rice products have been commercialized.
On the net: www.usarice.com.