German Company Sues Arkansas Rice Millers Over Modified Rice

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A German food producer has sued two Arkansas rice millers, alleging that unapproved genetically engineered rice was in shipments it purchased to make various food items.

Rickmers Reismuehle GMBH, based in Breman, filed separate federal complaints this week against Riceland Foods cooperative and Producers Rice Mill, both based in Stuttgart.

Rickmers alleged the Arkansas millers breached contracts with the food company by selling rice that did not meet the terms of a 2003 European Union ban on the importation and sale of genetically modified foods.

The lawsuits seek judgement for damages incurred by Rickmers in purchasing, using and recalling the rice and the food products made with it.

Keith Glover, president and chief executive officer for Producers, said Wednesday he had not seen the lawsuit but suspects it stems from the federal government's finding a year ago that the food supply contained traces of unapproved genetically engineered rice.  Before that, Glover said, produducers believed U.S. rice was free of the genetically modified grain.

Riceland did not immediately return a call for comment.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)