An Oregon wheat farmer recently discovered genetically modified wheat in his field. Genetically engineered wheat has not been approved for farming in the United States, and many markets around the world will not buy genetically engineered wheat. Any escape of genetically modified wheat has the potential to greatly damage the U.S. wheat farming industry.
Thousands of U.S. rice farmers represented by Gray, Ritter & Graham experienced a comparable situation and can attest to the significant economic damages wheat farmers may experience when genetically modified seeds contaminate approved crops.
Genetically Modified Rice Crop Contamination Lead to $750 Million Settlement
The wheat crop contamination is eerily similar to the rice contamination case. In that earlier action, which resulted in a $750 million settlement on behalf of rice farmers, a strain of genetically modified rice was discovered in the U.S. long-grain rice supply. Discovery of the contamination led to a dramatic drop in U.S. rice prices, as the European Union stopped purchasing U.S. rice.
Rice farmers across the country filed lawsuits against Bayer Cropscience, the manufacturer of the genetically engineered Liberty Link rice. Numerous lawsuits were filed and all federal cases from around the country were eventually combined into an agricultural multi-district litigation (MDL) in St. Louis. Gray, Ritter & Graham attorney Don Downing served as co-lead counsel for all plaintiffs in the MDL, which included rice exporters, rice importers, rice mills, and rice seed dealers as well as thousands of rice farmers. Three federal and three state court trials all resulting in verdicts for rice farmers prior agreement on the $750 million global farmer settlement.
The investigation is just beginning into how widespread the genetically engineered wheat contamination is and how the contamination occurred. But if U.S. wheat farmers and related enterprises are economically damaged by the negligent contamination of their crops, they should be financially compensated by those responsible.