Rice and Crawfish Farmers Sue Bayer for Damage to Crawfish
(Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2004) A jury is being selected to hear a class-action lawsuit brought by 1,600 south Louisiana crawfishermen and rice farmers and landowners against Bayer CropScience USA and five seed and grain companies, according to a March 4, 2004 Associated Press (AP) story. The farmers, who used the seed treatment Icon on rice to kill water weevils, say they lost their crawfish crops in 2000 and 2001 because they used the product. Many south Louisiana rice farmers also raise crawfish in their wet fields.
Icon was introduced into the American market in 1998 and contains the active ingredient fipronil. In February, Bayer announced that it would no longer manufacture the seed treatment Icon for rice grown in the United States. “The reason the company cited was declining sales,” Michael Stout, an entomologist with the LSU AgCenter, told the AP. “Farmers were a little bit nervous about a possible link between the use of ICON and crawfish mortality.”
Landowners allege that the pesticide destroyed their mudbug crops in 2000 and 2001. The crawfishermen claim Icon residue and metabolites in the ponds damaged their crops. They want Bayer to remove and replace the soil in their fields. “The ground is contaminated. It's not back to its normal production. Some ponds are still not producing,” said Pat Morrow, the lead attorney for the farmers and landowners. Bayer claims that a drought was responsible for the decline.