The holiday season is a little brighter for more than 2,500 Hare Wynn rice farmer-clients who will soon receive payments as a result of a historic $750 million settlement in a lawsuit against Bayer Cropscience. The lawsuits that prompted the eventual settlement were filed as a result of the corruption of farmers’ crops by a genetically engineered strain of rice produced by the Bayer Cropscience.
"This settlement was crucial to the survivability of thousands of rice growing farms and families in this country,” states Scott Powell, lead counsel with Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton. “Our clients, as well as all rice farmers in this country, have struggled mightily with the crash of the world rice markets due to Bayer's contamination. I am so proud of them and could not be happier for these farming families and businesses.”
Bayer agreed to the settlement during the summer of 2011, stipulating that a threshold of 85% of the rice acreage involved in the suit be certified. According to Scott Powell, most of the farmers involved in the settlement should see payments in the first week of January.
The problem began in August, 2006 when The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that amounts of genetically altered rice had made its way into the U.S. rice supply. In reaction to this announcement, the 27-country European Union (EU)market essentially closed because of a requirement that U.S. rice be tested and certified to be 100 percent free of genetically modified rice.