Companies that have successfully been sued by farmers for alleged losses caused by the contamination of their conventional rice crops with a genetically modified (GM) strain have removed to federal court a case filed by a pet food manufacturer alleging harm from the GM contamination of its products. The Nutro Co. v. Bayer AG, No. 11-01674 (U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. Mo., E. Div., removal notice filed September 26, 2011). According to the complaint, the defendants “directly and proximately caused large monetary damages to Plaintiff’s businesses, in part, because the sale and use of GM food, including rice, is restricted, prohibited, or otherwise limited in the EU and other domestic and foreign markets where Plaintiff sells its products.”

Relying on contamination findings made by juries in the farmers’ rice contamination lawsuits, the Nutro Co. claims that the defendants’ LL601 GM rice contaminated the conventional rice it uses as an ingredient in its dog and cat foods, and that it was forced to pull contaminated product from European distributors in 2006 and then resupply those markets with “reformulated, certified GM-free product.” The company was apparently required to find alternative sources of uncontaminated rice and rice bran and even reformulated some of its products, “at great expense,” to eliminate rice bran as an ingredient.  

Alleging negligence, negligence per se, public and private nuisance, strict products liability, absolute liability for ultra-hazardous activity, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, and interference with contractual or business relations, the plaintiff seeks damages in excess of $10 million, exemplary damages, disgorgement, restitution, interest, attorney’s fees, and costs. The suit was filed in a Missouri state court in August 2011.