US court ruling on GMO rice affirms danger of Bayer crops

Greenpeace pushes for ruling on motion in RP court

A United States federal jury ruling on 4 December 2009, that Bayer CropScience LP must pay US$2 million to two Missouri farmers, affirms that the responsibility for the consequences of contamination from genetically modified organisms (GMO) rests with the company that releases GMO crops. The Missouri farmers’ crops were contaminated with an experimental variety of rice that Bayer was testing in 2006.

Greenpeace welcomed the verdict, pointing out that there is no legal GMO rice currently grown in the world and Bayer’s application for commercialisation in the Philippines and in certain other parts of the world is mainly to legalise the entry of contaminated rice from the US where massive contamination was discovered in 2006.

A motion for reconsideration has been filed by Greenpeace last November 25 with the Philippine Court of Appeals (CA), in relation to the decision to dismiss the temporary writ of injunction preventing the Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Plant Industry from approving Bayer’s genetically modified rice, LL62, for importation as food, feed and processing, in the Philippines.

“The CA’s decision undermines the right of Filipinos, whose staple food is rice, to consume food that is safe and free from GMO-contamination,” said Danny Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Aside from the risks involved in the process of developing this genetically modified rice strain, residues of the powerful herbicide — Liberty Link (glufosinate) — also put at risk those who will be consuming it on a daily basis and at least 2 times a day. GMO rice should never be allowed to enter Philippine shores again and threaten our rice supply in the future.”

Bayer has admitted it has been unable to control the spread of its genetically-engineered organisms despite ‘the best practices’ to stop contamination[1]. It shows that all outdoors field trials or commercial growing of GMO crops must be stopped before our crops are irreversibly contaminated.

A report prepared for Greenpeace International concluded that the total costs incurred throughout the world as a result of the contamination are estimated to range from 741 million to 1.285 billion US dollars.[2] The verdict indicates that Bayer is liable for what could turn out to be a large proportion of these costs, as it awards damages in the first two of more than 1,200 currently pending lawsuits. The decision must be used to support all claims for losses incurred by other US farmers whose crops have suffered from GMO contamination.

Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.