After 11,000 U.S. farmers sued Bayer due to the chemical contamination of their crops, Bayer has agreed to a $750 million settlement to compensate the farmers. The case followed the discovery of two strains of genetically altered rice in U.S. supplies (alleged to have contaminated more than 30% of U.S. rice lands) which was then traced back to Bayer.
The discovery forced countries and organizations (such as Russia, Mexico and the European Union) outside of the U.S. to ban U.S.-origin rice or force U.S. rice to go through tight sanctioning processes which led to a drop in prices.
Authorities determined that the contamination occurred between the years of 1998 and 2001, a time when popularity of genetically modified crops waxed.
The strains, designed to make rice more resistant to herbicides, were previously owned by Aventis, a chemicals company which was bought in sections by Bayer.
Unfortunately for Bayer, the farmers’ attorneys argued that since the company purchased the strains, Bayer was made legally responsible for the contamination.
The farmers’ attorneys also accused Bayer of withholding the discovery of the contamination for at least two months before notifying the United States Department of Agriculture.
The 11,000 farmers in the U.S. states of Mississippi, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas will be splitting the $750 million settlement. Those who planted rice from 2006 to 2010 can receive 310 U.S. dollars per acre.