Arkansas Court Affirms $50M Verdict for Rice Farmers

By JEANNIE NUSS | December 9, 2011

The Arkansas Supreme Court has affirmed a nearly $50 million verdict for farmers who claim they suffered economic losses after genetically altered rice seeds produced by Bayer CropScience contaminated the food supply and hurt their crop prices.

Before Thursday’s ruling, Bayer had appealed a verdict last year out of Lonoke County that awarded farmers $5.9 million in actual damages and $42 million in punitive damages. The company said Arkansas lawmakers set a limit on punitive damages and that no award should “shock the conscience.”

Farmers claimed rice prices fell after federal regulators announced in 2006 that an experimental strain of rice was found in the U.S. long-grain rice supply. The rice had not been approved for human consumption.

Bayer argued that any damages were minimal.

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