What is in this article?:
- Riceland wins historic award in GM rice case against Bayer.
- Case stems from 2006 discovery of trace amounts of GM traits in several U.S. rice varieties.
- Damages awarded may be subject to cap -- Arkansas Supreme Court to decide.
I’m curious how the case evolved. When you took the case you didn’t know how precipitously markets would fall. Your thoughts at the outset and how they’ve changed in the last couple of years?
“It’s been an evolution for Riceland. Riceland was sued early on, was named as a defendant in one of the very first cases filed. That was the case in Lonoke County … where there was a big punitive award for 10 or 11 farmers against Bayer.
“That case was probably filed within two weeks after the announcement was made. … The fact that we got involved in litigation prevented Riceland from getting its real story out as to what actions the co-op was taking during the entire time.”
Farmers were especially upset because they said if the news had come earlier they could have planted (untainted) varieties.
“Right. That was part of the allegations. And they were upset because many of them were members of Riceland. Many didn’t understand what Riceland had been doing.
“But because of the litigation against Riceland, it wasn’t like we could come out and make a bunch of public statements as to what all was going on. And my advice to Riceland as an attorney was ‘hey, we need to let this come out through the litigation and trial process, not through public comments and telling everything we know.’
“As it developed, other lawsuits started being filed. Even though Riceland wasn’t sued nearly as much as Bayer, there were a number of suits filed against Riceland with the same types of allegations.
“We had to work through the litigation process and let Riceland’s story about what we were doing during this time period – and why we thought we had no responsibility or fault in the situation – come out through depositions, discovery in litigation and trials. We did it that way even though we kept getting a black eye because people didn’t know what Riceland knew, when it knew it, why it didn’t say anything for about a four-month period before (alerting) Bayer.”