Fallout Continues for Arkansas Rice Farmers Contaminated by GMOs
By Curt Hodges
Paragould Daily Press - Arkansas, Sept 10, 2010
Straight to the Source
JONESBORO - Three Northeast Arkansas rice farmers say that despite nearly five years that have gone by since the Liberty Link genes were found in commercially-grown long-grain rice in several states in August 2006, they are still feeling the effects.
"It has affected us economically," said Clover Bend farmer Stan Jones. "We lost our markets and our reputation in the world of producing desirable, high quality long grain rice."
Their reputations as producers were damaged by something that they had no control over, Jones, along with Greg Gill and Ray Stone, also Lawrence County rice growers, said Wednesday.
They also said several of their friends and fellow rice growers literally lost everything when rice markets collapsed and crops could not be sold in the aftermath of the discovery of genetically modified traits in commercial rice in the south.
"Here we are four years later and still having to have our rice certified as being free of genetically modified traits," Stone said. "This is something that happened to us, and we had no control over it whatsoever. We're still feeling the effects of it."
The big effect, the farmers said, was not just their reputations and those of other rice growers in the south, but there was a stiff price to pay economically in lost markets and lower prices for all rice that resulted from the fallout of the tainted rice situation involving the Liberty Link experiments by Bayer CropScience that apparently went awry.
The European Union said no longer accepts U.S. rice. The market in Japan for American rice has also been hurt by discovery of the genetically modified traits in commercial rice.
Rice saved for seed has to be certified as free of genetically modified traits, and that certification has to be done at the cost of the farmer.
"It is the farmer that has to pay to have that done," Stone pointed out, adding that it was not the farmer's fault that the traits became spread through other varieties and ended up in commercial rice.
The announcement of the discovery of the stray traits was made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in August 2006 that Bayer's LibertyLink traits had been found in commercially-grown long-grain rice in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Missouri. Five days later the European Union rejected rice grown by U.S. rice farmers and announced that a ban on U.S. imports would be instituted.