Bayer CropScience agreed here late Friday to pay up to $750 million to farmers in Missouri and four other states to settle lawsuits over contamination of the U.S. rice supply by LibertyLink genetically modified rice in 2006.
"It was a devastating blow to a lot of rice farmers, and I'm tickled to death that we've finally reached a settlement where Bayer for the first time has offered to make it right to these farmers," said St. Louis lawyer Don Downing, who was co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
"I think it sends a signal to those who develop genetically modified seeds that they need to keep those seeds very carefully contained until they're approved for human consumption," Downing said.
But, he added, "We were very careful all along … not to say that these lawsuits are anti-GMO (genetically-modified organisms) because many of our farmers use GM crops."
Bayer, based in Germany, released a statement that read, in part, "Although Bayer CropScience believes it acted responsibly in the handling of its biotech rice, the company considers it important to resolve the litigation so that it can move forward focused on its fundamental mission of providing innovative solutions to modern agriculture."