Ark. jury tells Bayer to pay rice farmers $48M

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A lawyer for a dozen Lonoke County rice farmers who sued Bayer CropScience claiming damages from the release of genetically altered rice says a jury has awarded the farmers nearly $50 million in damages - $5.9 million for actual damages and punitive damages of $42 million.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Scott Powell of Birmingham, Ala., says the jury notified the judge it had reached a verdict shortly before 4:30 p.m. Thursday, after deliberating a little less than two hours.

The farmers claimed a rice strain developed by Bayer called Liberty Link, which is resistant to the Bayer herbicide called Liberty, was allowed to make its way into the stream of commercially marketed rice.

The suit claimed announcement of the contamination in August 2006 damaged the prices they were able to get for their crops that year.

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