The federal Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled Tuesday that more than a dozen lawsuits over genetically contaminated rice be consolidated into one. Hundreds of rice farmers from at least three states filed a suit against Bayer CropScience for the introduction of its Liberty Link 601 biotech rice line that wasn't approved for human consumption, but was found in the commercial rice supply.
The 12 lawsuits and an additional 21 similar lawsuits that could be considered "tag alongs" to the litigation would make the case one of the largest legal actions of its kind. The cases will be tried before U.S. Judge Catherine Perry in the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis. According to wire reports, at a hearing this month, all the attorneys, including Bayer's, requested the cases be consolidated to streamline the litigation. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture retroactively did approve the biotech rice strain as safe.