The USA Rice Federation has filed a “friend of the court” brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit in support of verdicts handed down in favor of rice producers. The action comes following Bayer CropScience’s appeal of two of those verdicts.

The cases stem from the 2006 discovery of trace amounts of unapproved Bayer GM traits in the U.S. rice supply. Despite FDA assurances that the rice remained safe for consumption, markets quickly sank as countries rejected loads of U.S. rice. In the following weeks, as potential earnings slipped away, thousands of rice-growing farmers filed lawsuits against Bayer.

Long percolating, those cases are now coming to trial — both individually in state courts and through “bellwether” cases at the federal level. In the few cases litigated so far, plaintiffs have yet to lose and, combined, have won over $50 million.

“Two separate federal juries (have) awarded damages to groups of Arkansas and Missouri farmers,” said Jackie Loewer, a Branch, La., rice farmer and chairman of the USA Rice Federation, in a statement about the brief. “Bayer’s decision to appeal is unfortunate and it wrongly seeks to shift the cost of LibertyLink onto rice farmers and away from Bayer.”

On Wednesday, Farm Press spoke with Bob Cummings, senior vice president of the Rice Federation, about the litigation. He also spoke about the recently announced Free Trade Agreement with South Korea (for more, see U.S./South Korean Free Trade Agreement struck).