LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Emerson Poynter LLP, a national law firm with offices in Little Rock and Houston, announced that it filed a class action lawsuit Aug. 28 in U.S. District Court on behalf of all rice farmers in the United States.

This lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District of Arkansas - Western Division (Case No. 4-06-CV-01078), seeks damages on behalf of a class of farmers who have suffered from the depression of rice prices due to the contamination of the U.S. rice supply with genetically engineered rice that is not approved for human consumption.

The complaint charges Bayer CropScience US, Bayer CropScience LP and Aventis CropScience USA Inc. with negligence insomuch as they had duty not to contaminate the nation's rice supply with unapproved genetically engineered rice and that they breached that duty. All are subsidiaries of Bayer Aktienges Ads.

The complaint alleges that in mid-August 2006, it became public knowledge that the U.S. rice crop had been contaminated with unapproved genetically engineered Bayer CropScience rice, as trace amounts were found in commercial rice supplies in Arkansas and Missouri.

More than 100 varieties of rice are commercially produced in primarily six states in the U.S. (Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and California), and it is estimated that the 2006 crop year would be valued at $1.88 billion with approximately half being exported. In 2005, 80 percent of the rice exported was the long-grain variety -- the type that has been contaminated.

Japan has banned all U.S. long-grained rice imports and the European Union has said that all U.S. long-grain rice will have to be tested by an accredited laboratory using a validated testing method and accompanied by a certificate before entering any of the member countries of the EU, the law firm said.

The Associate Press is reporting that a similar class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court Monday, as well as a third lawsuit filed by about 20 farmers in Lonoke County (Arkansas) Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Emerson Poynter LLP is a national law firm with offices in Little Rock and Houston. The firm said in its release that farmers who believe their rice crop prices have been adversely affected by the contamination caused by Bayer CropScience LLRICE 601, also referred to as Liberty Link Rice, could contact Emerson Poynter about rights and potential claims.

SOURCE: Emerson Poynter LLP via PrimeZone.