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• Index to documents and reports pertaining to the Class Action Suit of Louisiana Crawfish Farmers
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• Campaign against Bayer Dangers
Fipronil. News Items related to the Class Action for Louisiana Crawfish Farmers who sustained substantial crawfish mortality due to the use of ICON.
16 news items below:
August 2, 2004: Crawfish farmers need to prove losses to reap settlement money
July 30, 2004 - Settlement for LA Crawfish Farmers
July 28, 2004: Settlement a boon for crawfish farmers
March 29, 2004: Court Grants Preliminary Approval to a $45 Million Settlement of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers' Pesticide Class Action Lawsuit
Undated (either late March 2004 or April 2004): Bayer faces $US 7 million negative impact from settlement with lobster fishermen
February 29 2004: Trial Monday in rice pesticide-crawfish farmers case
February 27, 2004: French environmentalists push for tougher ban on 'bee-killing' pesticide
February 6, 2004: Icon rice seed treatment to be pulled from market
April 11, 2003: BASF finalizes acquisition of fipronil
March 31, 2003: BASF may seek rebate for fipronil acquisition
November 4, 2002: BASF buys Bayer insecticides and seed treatment for [euro]1.2Bn - - Bayer AG sells Fipronil and several fungicides
October 10, 2002: Crawfish farmers upset with Aventis
September 13, 2002: Suit Charges Pesticide Damaged Crawfish Farms
July 1, 2002: Introducing Bayer Environmental Science
June 3, 2002: Bayer gets FTC green light - Breaking News Roundup - Federal Trade Commission approves Aventis Crop Science acquisition
August 3, 2001: LOUISIANA CRAWFISH FISHERMEN WIN CLASS ACTION CERTIFICATION IN LAWSUIT AGAINST PESTICIDE MANUFACTURER
August 2, 2004
KATC 3 TV. Acadiana's (LA) News Channel
Crawfish farmers need to prove losses to reap settlement money
OPELOUSAS, La. Armed with records showing crop losses, crawfish farmers this week will start the process of staking their claims to 24 (m) million dollars won in a legal settlement with the manufacturer of a pesticide linked to crop losses.
A claims office opens its doors today in Opelousas to collect evidence from farmers on their losses allegedly caused by the pesticide. The office is expected to close in mid-September.Earlier this year, crawfish farmers won a 45 (m) million dollar class-action settlement for losses linked to Icon -- rice seed treated with the pesticide fipronil. About 21 (m) million dollars of the settlement went to court costs, administrative costs and lawyer fees.
The farmers say Icon destroyed their crops and contaminated their fields. The company that makes Icon, Aventis Crop Sciences, argued drought conditions were to blame for the decline.
Production records, sales records, tax returns and expense accounts will be among the documents farmers will bring to show damage. A court-appointed official will evaluate the claims and propose a compensation schedule. The schedule will then be given to state District Judge James Genovese, who must approve it before payments can be distributed.
Lawyers believe the farmers could get money before the end of the year. As many as 15-hundred farmers and land owners are expected to file claims.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
July 30, 2004
Lake Charles, Louisiana, NBC TV 7 KPLC
Settlement for LA Crawfish Farmers
Reported by Associated Press
Hundreds of south Louisiana crawfish farmers are in line to share in $24 million they won in a legal settlement with the maker of a pesticide linked to crop losses.
On Monday, the process begins to determine how much each eligible farmer is entitled to. A claims office has been set up in Opelousas. Earlier this year, crawfish farmers won a $45 million class-action settlement for losses linked to Icon, rice seed treated with the pesticide Fipronil. About $21 million in the settlement was eaten up in court costs, administrative and lawyer fees.
Donald Benoit, who manages more than 700 acres of crawfish ponds near Gueydan and operates a crawfish processing business, claims he lost hundreds of thousands of dollars because of Icon.
July 28, 2004
The Lafayette Daily Advertiser [Louisiana]
Settlement a boon for crawfish farmers
Potentially a thousand or more South Louisiana crawfish farmers are in line to share in $24 million of the $45 million Icon pesticide settlement.
The process of determining who qualifies and how much they are entitled to receive begins Monday when a claims office opens at 839 W. Landry St. in Opelousas, near the railroad in the old Budweiser building.
Earlier this year, lawyers representing crawfish farmers won a $45 million class-action settlement for losses linked to Icon, rice seed treated with the pesticide fipronil.
The farmers argued Icon, introduced locally in 1999 and withdrawn from the market earlier this year,
destroyed their crawfish crop and contaminated their fields.
“We urge (crawfish farmers) to come forward. There is money available to compensate those who sustained losses,” said Pat Morrow, lead attorney for the crawfish farmers.
After that, court-appointed Special Master Patrick Juneau will evaluate the claims and propose a compensation schedule. That schedule must then be reviewed and approved by 27th District Judicial Court Judge James Genovese, who presided over the five-year court case.
Morrow estimated farmers with legitimate claims should have a check in their hands before the end of the year.
But first the farmers must prove their losses.
“Any type of documentary evidence will help,” Morrow said. “The amount of acres farmed, any production records, sales records, tax returns, the amount of expenses would obviously be important. The more documents the farmer has the better,” Morrow said.
©The Lafayette Daily Advertiser
From the website of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP
March 29, 2004, Opelousas, Louisiana
Court Grants Preliminary Approval to a $45 Million Settlement of the Louisiana Crawfish Farmers' Pesticide Class Action Lawsuit
Judge James T. Genovese, of the 27th Judicial District Court, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, today granted preliminary approval to a $45 million settlement in a class action lawsuit by over 1,500 crawfish farmers in Louisiana, lawyers for the farmers announced. The farmers filed suit against the manufacturers and sellers of the pesticide ICON (active ingredient fipronil) for losses in their pond-grown crawfish crops allegedly caused by the pesticide. The settlement was reached after the parties had presented nearly a month's worth of evidence at trial, and were on the verge of making closing arguments to the jury.
"The settlement is a fair resolution for Louisiana's crawfish farmers. Farmers who suffered tremendous declines in their crawfish crops allegedly due to the contamination of their ponds with fipronil have had their day in court and will now be compensated," commented Patrick C. Morrow of Morrow, Morrow, Ryan & Bassett and trial counsel for plaintiffs.
"We are grateful for the diligence and dedication shown by Judge Genovese in managing the case through five years of strongly contested litigation," stated attorney Lori E. Andrus, a member of the trial team. "Today's settlement serves as a clear example of the critical role Louisiana state courts play in advancing the rights of Louisiana citizens in consumer and environmental class action lawsuits."
In addition to attorneys Morrow and Andrus, Class Counsel in the case consisted of Vance Andrus, Richard Arsenault, Dawn Barrios, Kirk A. Guidry, Bruce Kingsdorf, Gano Lemoine, Hunter Lundy, and Matt Lundy.
Notice of the Settlement
Notice of the settlement will be provided shortly to class members through direct mail and newspaper and radio ads. Class members may also visit www.lacrawfishcase.com or call toll free 1-866-942-3634 to learn more about the settlement.
The notices will summarize the terms of the settlement, generally describe the claims process to determine how the settlement funds will be distributed, set forth how and by what date people can object to the settlement, and provide other relevant deadlines. On May 17, 2004, at 9:30 a.m., the Court will conduct a fairness hearing to determine whether the settlement should be given final approval.
In entering into the settlement, defendants admitted no liability for the damages allegedly suffered by class members.
On August 28, 2002, the Louisiana Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's class certification of a class, defined by the following three subclasses:
Subclass 1: All persons or legal entities from January of 1999 who purchased ICON-treated seed for the planting of rice or for crawfish operations in the State of Louisiana and who allege financial loss and damages as a result of said crop's exposure to ICON;
Subclass 2: All persons or legal entities from January of 1999 who farm crawfish in the State of Louisiana and who allege financial loss and damages to their respective crawfish crop as a result of said crop's exposure to ICON;
Subclass 3: All persons or legal entities from January of 1999 who participated in a sharecropping arrangement for the farming of crawfish in the State of Louisiana and who allege financial loss and damages as a result of its crawfish farmers' crop exposure to ICON.
Undated (either late March 2004 or April 2004)
ADVN - Advanced Financial Network
Bayer faces $US 7 million negative impact from settlement with lobster fishermen
MONHEIM, Germany (AFX) - BayerCropScience AG said it expects a negative
impact of about 7 mln usd resulting from the 45 mln usd out-of-court settlement
reached earlier this week with lobster (crawfish) fishermen in the US state of
The fishermen claim the company's pesticide ICON led to a reduction in the
number of lobsters.
ICON was part of Aventis CropScience, the crop protection business Bayer
purchased from Aventis SA in 2002.
The rest of the $45 million payment is covered by insurance and an agreement
with BayerCropScience and Aventis, under which the French company has to cover
any liabilities, Bayer said.
Bayer said there is no proof that ICON was responsible for the decrease in
Online at the site Campaign Against Bayer Dangers: http://www.cbgnetwork.org/home/Newsletter_KCB/KCB__124/kcb__124.html
February 29 2004
Trial Monday in rice pesticide-crawfish farmers case
By JANET McCONNAUGHEY, The Associated Press
Farmers who claim that pesticide-coated seed rice killed their crawfish crops will soon get their say in state district court.
Jury selection was to begin Monday in Opelousas for the farmers' lawsuit against Bayer CropScience, which makes the seed treatment called Icon. The pesticide was designed to kill water weevils in rice fields, which double as crawfish ponds in south Louisiana.
The farmers say they were told the pesticide introduced in 1998 would not affect crawfish, but that it nearly eliminated their haul in 2000 and 2001. They want Bayer to replace the soil in their fields.
LSU AgCenter scientists said years of statewide heat and drought were probably the main reason for the puny crawfish crop.
Production was down two-thirds to three-quarters in areas without rice, they noted.
However, the farmers say that another study on five sets of ponds that were adjacent but completely separate found that those without Icon yielded far more crawfish than the one with.
Timing matters, the LSU scientists said: crawfish did well in fields planted six to seven weeks earlier with Icon, but died in fields planted more recently. In southwestern Louisiana, rice and crawfish farming are done side-by-side or sequentially in the same field.
The defendant, originally Aventis CropScience, was bought by Bayer AG in 2002 and is now called Bayer CropScience.
Bayer AG sold the pesticide involved, called fipronil, to BASF AG to meet U.S. and European regulators conditions for the Aventis purchase. However, it kept the right to sell fipronil in certain markets.
Bayer CropScience USA announced in February that it won't make Icon after this year because of falling sales. Remaining supplies can be used through 2006. Icon is also the only pesticide approved for use against another rice pest called the lespedeza worm or grape colaspis.
Last week, France's agriculture minister banned sales of fipronil because of allegations that it kills honeybees. However, the country's ecology minister acknowledged that the allegations have not been "entirely" proved.
February 27, 2004
French environmentalists push for tougher ban on 'bee-killing' pesticide
PARIS (AFP) — French environmentalists and bee-keepers demanded the government ban outright a pesticide whose sales were suspended this week because of suspicions it was killing off bees in huge numbers.
The main farmers' union, led by anti-globalization campaigner Jose Bove, led the charge against the product, marketed under several brand-names including Regent TS, one day after staging an occupation of a national food safety agency in Paris during which activists stole several confidential government documents relating to the matter.
Bove and several of the activists were arrested and briefly detained for the demonstration, and police said Friday they were investigating the theft.
Among the documents, which they made available to the media, there was an agriculture ministry report which deemed that the government's decision to give farmers till June to use up their remaining stocks of the pesticide was much less costly that destroying the crop seeds already sprayed.
But the national association of bee-keepers says massive damage is being done to bee populations, which are crucial to plant pollination.
The association and Bove's union are calling for a total and immediate ban on the use of the main molecule involved -- fipronil.
Subisidiaries of German groups Bayer and BASF, which sold Regent TS, are under criminal investigation in France for selling an agricultural product that is toxic to humans or animals.
Bayer's unit is also under investigation for destroying private property -- an accusation related to the death of the bees.
© 2004 AFP
February 6, 2004
Delta Farm Press
Icon rice seed treatment to be pulled from market
By David Bennett, Farm Press Editorial Staff
Icon, a seed treatment applied for the control of rice water weevil and grape colaspis in rice, is being voluntarily removed from the market, according to entomologists.
"There isn't any Environmental Protection Agency pressure; the company just decided to remove it," said John Bernhardt, University of Arkansas rice entomologist. "It's very disturbing because we're left with no pesticide option to control grape colaspis.
Icon, a pesticide containing the active ingredient fipronil, was introduced by Rhone-Poulenc Ag Products in 1998. Rhone-Poulenc later merged with AgrEvo to form Aventis CropScience, which was acquired by Bayer CropScience in 2002. Bayer subsequently sold the fipronil active ingredient to BASF Corp.
"Icon is part of a novel class of insecticides discovered a few years ago," said Bernhardt, a researcher at the Rice Research and Extension Center in Stuttgart, Ark. "This class has a broad range of activities, and the product is registered for use in a few crops as well as other uses (like flea control on pets). It was tested in rice as a control, mainly, for the rice water weevil. The weevil is our second-most bothersome pest in the state (with the rice stink bug being first), and Icon was registered for its control. It works very well."
After Icon was registered for water weevils, Bernhardt and colleagues wondered if it had any activity against grape colaspis, commonly called the lespedeza worm. Normally a minor pest, grape colaspis can wreak havoc on a rice stand under certain environmental conditions.
"When we finally got some field data showing colaspis is controlled very well by Icon, it was put on the rice label," says Bernhardt. "When talking about this product at grower meetings, we said, 'This is an interesting pesticide. You can put it on as a seed treatment. It will suppress chinch bugs; it will control grape colaspis, water weevils, and a couple of minor pests.' It was (and is) the only pesticide registered for grape colaspis control."
Cultural practices to control grape colaspis include flooding the field once infestation is realized. Or, if a farm has a historical problem with colaspis, changes in tillage practices can help (problem fields are usually composed of silt loams). Neither option is, in most cases, as economical as an Icon treatment nor as effective, says Bernhardt.
With news of Icon's loss to growers, Bernhardt began investigating other products that could help fill the void.
"There are products registered for other crops that have colaspis activity. We're going to see if they help in rice. Plus, we're going to investigate products already registered in rice. Maybe we can find something."
This is a "strange" situation, says Bernhardt. Even with farmers asking to buy it, the uses for Icon are limited given the small amount of acreage planted to rice in the United States. For a company to invest enough money to register a product in rice, a certain amount of return must be promised. Not many companies consider rice a big enough crop to expend funds.
"We can often find products useful for rice," says Bernhardt. "But getting the companies to register them is very difficult. It's just cost-prohibitive."
But producers need Icon, he says. Some years, a producer will lose only 2 percent of his stand to colaspis and won't even know the pest is there. Other years, like in 2001, "we'll have growers lose 100 percent of their stands."
"Usually, damage is sporadic in a field - but that isn't always the case," says Bernhardt. "A farmer can be faced with replanting and, if he's already pulled levees, he's got added problems."
Grape colaspis in rice normally follows a soybean rotation. In rare cases, infestation will follow a corn rotation. At least two generations of the pest occur annually in most soybean fields. That's particularly true in fields where later maturity groups are planted.
Following soybean harvest, the immature form of the pest - many people call them white grubs, although they're not - burrow deep into the soil below the freeze line. In the spring, the larvae move closer to the soil surface to feed on crops and mature.
"Icon is pretty expensive when compared to herbicides running $4 per acre," says Bernhardt. "Icon costs, at the lowest effective rate (0.5 ounce per acre applied as a seed treatment), around $10 per acre. A 0.75-ounce rate - which will run a grower between $13 and $15 per acre - is the lowest rate we recommend for rice water weevil control."
After 2004, no more Icon will be manufactured for rice. Any remaining supplies can be utilized through 2006.
Bernhardt says producers he's spoken to about Icon's departure are surprised.
"They all want to know, 'What will we do?' That's a great question. Last year, about 30 percent of Arkansas' rice acres (close to 500,000 acres) had Icon on it. Principally, that was for grape colaspis control. I think just now many producers are finding out about the product. And just as they find out, we're to lose it. Icon is important."
After farmers began using the product, Bernhardt says, they've facetiously reported back that, "'Icon cured my salt problem. I now have a good stand of rice.' All along, their poor stands were attributed to salt, poor seed, germination problems and disease. They didn't realize that grape colaspis was causing the problems."
COPYRIGHT 2004 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group
April 11, 2003
Delta Farm Press
BASF finalizes acquisition of fipronil
BASF AG has finalized the global acquisition of fipronil from Bayer CropScience AG, paving the way for the insecticide with the trade name Regent to join the BASF corn product portfolio.
Late in 2002, BASF announced its intent to purchase a package of products, including fipronil, from Bayer. The sale totaled 1.330 million euros, - about $1.42 million.
"This purchase further strengthens our insecticide portfolio, and reinforces BASF as a long-term player in agriculture," Andy Lee, BASF director of U.S. business operations said at a March 26 press conference.
With the sale closed, Regent now will be marketed by BASF in a corn product portfolio that includes Distinct, Guardsman Max, Lightning and Outlook herbicides, Counter systemic insecticide-nematicide, and other crop-protection products.
"The addition of fipronil, and Regent specifically, allows us to offer our customers a liquid corn insecticide option for the first time," said Lee. "We believe Regent will be a significant complement to our overall corn portfolio."
Regent is a soil insecticide that offers complete corn protection, controlling pests such as rootworm, wireworm and early-season European corn borer, Lee noted. In addition, Regent controls a number of secondary corn pests, including common stalk borer, seed corn maggot, seed corn beetle, chinch bug grubs and thrips.
"The way we see it, the biggest advantage we can offer with Regent is its wide spectrum of insect control. Many older, competing products only offer corn rootworm control, but Regent, as a liquid, offers a much broader insect control solution," he says. "Because of this, we continue to see a need for this product even with new transgenic products coming to the market.
"Regent not only represents the newest generation of corn insecticides, but also nicely complements our strong Counter granular business," Lee said. "With this purchase, we will offer our channel partners and growers an even stronger corn insecticide portfolio."
The acquisition of the package from Bayer, including fipronil, also will allow BASF in the mid-term to enter the seed treatment business, Lee noted.
"We want to assure corn growers and retailers that supplies of Regent will continue to meet the needs of the market," he said.
According to Lee, BASF is proceeding with new product registrations associated with the recent acquisition. Specifically, he says, the company is interested in pursuing a seed treatment package with fipronil, and is researching a new wheat fungicide.
Fipronil, the active ingredient in Regent, is a broad-spectrum insecticide from the new chemistry class of phenyl pyrazoles. Fipronil is currently registered and sold in more than 70 countries.
"BASF is a company committed to agriculture for the long term. As such, we are always evaluating any opportunities to grow our agriculture business," Lee says.
COPYRIGHT 2003 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group
March 31, 2003
Chemical Market Reporter
BASF may seek rebate for fipronil acquisition
BASF AG has completed the acquisition of the insecticide fipronil and a number of seed-treatment fungicides from Bayer CropScience. However, BASF may want to renegotiate the purchase price, as Bayer AG is renegotiating the price of its acquisition of Aventis CropScience.
Bayer agreed to sell the products to BASF last autumn after the European Commission made their divestment a condition for the approval of Bayer's take-over of Aventis CropScience.
The products being acquired by BASF, which had total sales of [euro]500 million ($530 million) in 2001, are valued at [euro]1.3 million. But after taking into account the licensing back of acquired products to Bayer for certain nonagricultural uses, the purchase price amounts to [euro] 1.2 billion.
However, Bayer is renegotiating the [euro]7.2 billion price it paid for Aventis CropScience and demanding compensation for damages from Aventis for alleged inaccuracies in contractual representations and warranties. BASF has consequently hinted that once Bayer's talks with Aventis are completed, it may want to reconsider the price it paid for the Bayer products.
"Because Bayer acquired the active ingredient fipronil with its purchase of Aventis CropScience, we are watching these developments closely and haye every confidence that our business partner Bayer will act fairly," Jurgen Strube, BASF chairman, told a recent press conference.
In crops, the most important uses of fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide from the new class of phenyl pyrazoles, are in soil applications and seed treatment, while in non-crop markets it is used for termite control.
The fungicides included in the package are triticonazole, iprodione, prochloraz, pyrimethanil and fluquinconazole. The deal also includes manufacturing facilities at Elbeuf, France.
"With this acquisition, we close a strategic gap in our insecticides portfolio, strengthen our position in growing market segments such as seed treatment and non-crop uses and create market synergies with our current portfolio," says Hans Reiners, head of BASF's agricultural products division.
"With the acquired products and our new market introductions, we have a strong foundation for growth," he adds. "This is an important step towards achieving our midterm goal of a 25 percent EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] margin."
The agricultural products division last year recorded EBITDA of [euro]456 million, equivalent to a 15 percent margin on sales of [euro]2.9 billion.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Schnell Publishing Company, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group
November 4, 2002
Chemical Market Reporter
BASF buys Bayer insecticides and seed treatment for [euro]1.2Bn - - Bayer AG sells Fipronil and several fungicides
BASF HAS AGREED to buy from Bayer the insecticide Fipronil and several fungicides for seed treatment. Those were originally owned by Aventis before Bayer took over that company's crop protection business last year.
The total package of products, which had sales of [euro]500 million ($490 million) in 2001, is valued at [euro]1.3 billion. But after BASF granted back-licenses to Bayer for certain nonagricultural uses, the cash purchase price amounts to [euro]1.2 billion.
The transaction has to be approved by the European Commission and US Federal Trade Commission, which ordered Bayer to make the disposal before approving its [euro]7 billion Aventis acquisition. The Commission wanted the insecticide and the seed treatment products sold together to ensure competition in the seed treatment market where Bayer and Syngenta are the only major players.
As a result of the deal, BASF will be number three in the world insecticides market in which it had a weak position before its takeover of American Cyanamid two years ago. It will also become a strong operator in the world seed treatment sector.
"This acquisition allows us to considerably strengthen our insecticide business, especially in growing and attractive specialty markets' says Peter Oakley, BASF board member responsible for agricultural products.
"The seed treatment business is also a very good fit with our new fungicides which have considerable potential in this market."
Fipronil, a broad-spectrum insecticide from the new class of phenyl pyrazoles, has posted double-digit annual growth in its main markets in recent years.
The agreement means that Bayer is now fulfilling the conditions laid down by the competition authorities for the divestment of crop protection products having total sales of around [euro]600 million following its takeover of Aventis CropScience.
Meanwhile, Rolf Classon, responsible for strategy and business development at Bayer HealthCare, has been appointed the new chairman of the operation following the resignation of Frank Morich as head of the business.
Mr. Morich is thought to have left the company because of disagreements at the senior management level concerning the future direction of the health care activity, for which Bayer has been seeking a junior partner.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Schnell Publishing Company, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group
AgJournal.com - http://www.agjournal.com/story.cfm?story_id=1388
October 10, 2002
Crawfish farmers upset with Aventis
August 1, 2001 -- St. Landry Parish District Court Judge James Genovese gave hundreds of Louisiana crawfish farmers a major victory in their case against Aventis, the manufacturer of the rice seed treatment Icon. In a July 30, 2001, ruling, the court granted certification for a class of crawfish farmers, finding they met all legal requirements for class certification in the lawsuit filed in Opelousas last year. According to Pat Morrow, an Opelousas attorney representing the farmers, "Crawfish farmers who feel their crawfish harvests have been damaged by Icon contamination can now come forward and join this class action suit."
However, the court denied class status for local seed distributor defendants. The class certification hearing began in April and concluded in June.
Judge Genovese's ruling allows anyone claiming financial losses and damages as a result of their crawfish crop's exposure to Icon beginning in January 1999 to join the lawsuit if he or she:
- Purchased Icon-treated seed for rice operations in Louisiana, or
- Farmed crawfish in Louisiana, or
- Participated in a sharecropping arrangement for the farming of crawfish in Louisiana.
During the four days of trial, 36 witnesses testified, mainly crawfish farmers and experts. More than a dozen farmers told the same tale - once their crawfish crop was contaminated by Icon, the crawfish died. They became contaminated either because the crawfish were harvested in Icon-treated rice fields or because tailwater containing Icon or its metabolites flooded the crawfish crop.
Icon, the product name for the chemical fipronil, was commercially introduced in 1999. In 2000, Louisiana's crawfish production dropped 40 percent. Although its purpose is to kill the water weevils attacking rice plants, Icon, according to the trial testimony of farmers and experts, also kills crawfish.
Lousiana State University (LSU) scientists last year announced a possible link between Icon and crawfish mortality. In a survey of more than 90 commercial ponds, LSU scientists were told that in ponds where Icon-treated rice had been seeded the year before, crawfish production was generally well below average, says Dr. Greg Lutz, an aquaculture specialist with the Louisiana Agricultural Center. The survey was conducted in the 12 parishes that have the greatest share of both rice fields and crawfish ponds.
Dr. Ray McClain, professor at the LSU Ag Center's Rice Research Station in Crowley, tested a worst-case scenario for crawfish exposed to water that contained Icon-treated rice seed and found that most did not survive.
"This was a study under extreme conditions that are unlikely to occur in a natural setting," Dr. McClain says. "But we felt if the crawfish could survive these simulated conditions, then this would put to rest part of the controversy over Icon. But it didn't."
McClain in 1999 conducted similar experiments in which water containing Icon-treated seed did not significantly affect crawfish. "We simulated normal crawfish-growing conditions with the predominantly recommended rate of Icon," McClain said of his 1999 research. These results were corroborated by 1999 Aventis research. But in 2000, McClain increased the temperature of the water, used the maximum allowable rates of Icon and held the crawfish in the water longer.
In April and May of 1999, several crawfish farmers complained of finding too many dead crawfish, and some blamed the new seed-applied pesticide.
"It's not unusual for some crawfish to die from natural causes such as low dissolved oxygen and high water temperature. That happens every season. Some ponds I checked [in April 1999] had adequate oxygen but experienced significant crawfish mortality. Something else was causing the problem," says Mark Shirley, LSU fisheries agent in Vermilion Parish.
During this time, however, Louisiana's crawfish production area was suffering the effects of the worst drought in 100 years and some of the warmest temperatures on record for spring. Lack of rain combined with hot weather depletes the oxygen supply in water, which can stress or contribute to crawfish mortality. Drought and unseasonably warm temperatures have continued through 2000, and crawfish farmers had one of their worst seasons ever.
In March 2000 Aventis, along with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, issued new guidelines for use of Icon. The guidelines require a 100-foot buffer zone between fields seeded by air with Icon and lakes, reservoirs, rivers, ponds, estuaries and commercial fish farm ponds. They also require that farmers wait 24 hours after seeding before draining a field planted with Icon-treated seed.
For the most part, rice farmers have had rave reviews of Icon, says Dr. Johnny Saichuk, AgCenter rice specialist. "It is very effective in controlling the No. 1 insect pest of rice production and that is the rice water weevil," Dr. Saichuk says.
Farmers have alternative ways to control the rice water weevil. However, the other insecticides require more intensive management because of the timing of the applications, says Dr. David Boethel, assistant director of the Louisiana Agricultural Experiment Station. There are restrictions on producing crawfish following the use of the other insecticides, also.
"The continued viability of both rice and crawfish producers in Louisiana has been and remains a major mission of the LSU Ag Center," says Dr. Paul Coreil, the Louisiana Ag Center's assistant director for environmental programs.
With more than 110,000 acres of crawfish ponds, Louisiana's 1,600 farmers produce 35 million to 50 million pounds annually worth $25 million to $35 million at the producer level. Another 800 commercial fishers harvest crawfish from natural wetlands, primarily the Atchafalaya River Basin, the largest overflow swamp in the United States. Many Louisiana rice producers double-crop crawfish in rice fields after the rice harvest. More than half the crawfish in Louisiana are now cultured in rice fields.
Crawfish production has been expanding into the northern part of the state. "We're seeing a lot more interest in crawfish in nontraditional places like North Louisiana and even places like the Florida parishes," Lutz says. "There are several inquiries coming in from those areas for information on how to produce crawfish."
Lutz believes high crawfish prices, along with an increasing demand in North Louisiana, are driving some of this nontraditional interest. "All across the northern part of the state, we see that interest in eating crawfish seems to be increasing," he says. "People see prices of $4 and $5 a pound for crawfish, and there's a mentality that flooding a piece of land to grow crawfish will make someone rich. Of course, there's a lot more to it than that."
Prices eventually will go down as more and more crawfish are produced, the experts caution. But Lutz says even in a more competitive market, crawfish farming still will be a good idea for many producers.
"Even at more reasonable prices, it makes sense as a form of agricultural diversification," he says. "You see a lot of interest in North Louisiana, partly because the profitability looks a little better, but also because some of the more traditional land uses are just not paying out like they used to."
Shreveport firefighter Smokey James discovered crawfish farming almost by accident. "I had purchased some property intended for duck hunting, and a friend of a fellow firefighter asked if I had ever considered raising crawfish on it," James explains. "I said, 'Crawfish, are you nuts?' Then I had a Wildlife and Fisheries biologist come out to my property, and he said that my rudimentary population was tremendous."
It was so tremendous, in fact, that James has never had to stock his land with crawfish. "They're there naturally, and I enhance the area to make them better," he says.
"The market is steadily moving north, and now Shreveport cannot seem to get enough crawfish," James says. "In five or 10 years, I believe the Texas market is going to be the same way."
Any crawfish farmer seeking more information or wishing to join the class action lawsuit should contact Hunter Lundy at 800-259-1005 or Pat Morrow at 800-356-6776.
September 13, 2002
Suit Charges Pesticide Damaged Crawfish Farms
OPELOUSAS, Louisiana, - A federal appeals court has ruled that crawfish farmers can proceed with a class action suit seeking damages for the loss of their crawfish which they claim were killed by ICON, a pesticide made by Aventis. After a four day trial before St. Landry Parish District Court Judge James Genovese last year, the court found that the crawfish farmers could proceed as a class against Aventis, the manufacturer of the pesticide ICON, and seed distributors who coated ICON on rice seed. The defendants appealed Judge Genovese's ruling, but the Third Circuit Court of Appeal affirmed the class certification this week.
Opelousas attorney Pat Morrow, one of the lawyers representing the farmers, said the decision is a victory for hundreds of Louisiana's crawfish farmers whose crops were damaged by ICON. "Allowing the crawfish farmers to proceed as a class action against those parties responsible for the damages will level the playing field," Morrow said. "A rural crawfish farmer now has the ability to litigate against Aventis, a well financed multinational corporation. The class action procedure will allow all the farmers to join together to present evidence of legal and factual issues that are common to all crawfish farmers." "It is also reassuring that the Court of Appeal found no errors committed during the lengthy trial by Judge Genovese, and further, that Judge Genovese was particularly suitable for managing this class action lawsuit," Morrow added.
The original lawsuit was filed in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, in 2000. The crawfish farmers allege that the pesticide ICON (Fipronil) devastated Louisiana's 2000 and 2001 crawfish crop after its introduction on the rice seed in 1999. In 2000, Louisiana's crawfish production dropped from 41 million pounds to 16 million pounds. Although ICON's purpose is to kill the water weevil, an enemy of the rice crop, farmers and experts testified at trial that it also kills crawfish. The crawfish farmers testified that once their fields were contaminated by ICON, there was a widespread crawfish kill.
Although Aventis and the seed distributor defendants contend that ICON is safe, studies conducted by aquaculture experts and the Lousiana State University AgCenter suggest otherwise. Once ICON coated rice seeds are planted in the fields, ICON contaminates the water and sediment in which the crawfish feed. Scientists say ICON and its degradates will remain in the sediment and may continue to cause damage crawfish production for years to come.
"Although Defendants will exhaust all appellate remedies available to stop us proceeding as a class, we are preparing to go forward at the first available trial date," said Hunter Lundy of Lundy Davis, co-counsel representing crawfish farmers. "We are aware that the crawfish farmers suffered financial losses as a result of ICON and they deserve their day in court."
July 1, 2002
Introducing Bayer Environmental Science
As of June 4, 2002, the acquisition of Aventis CropScience by Bayer AG became official, having received the blessings of government regulators.
The result is Bayer CropScience, which consists of three business groups: Crop Protection, Bio Science and Environmental Science. The Environmental Science group (now headed by Josh Weeks, formerly head of Chipco Professional Products) consists of a Consumer Products division and a Professional Products division.
Combining the two businesses yields an impressive line of products used by golf and green industry professionals. However, Federal Trade Commission approval stipulated divestiture of two products: acetamiprid and fipronil. Acetamiprid is a promising insecticide chemically related to imidacloprid, widely used as Bayer's Merit insecticide, among other products. Fipronil is the active ingredient in Chipco's mole cricket and fireant products (Chipco Choice and Chipco FireStar), among others. It is possible that Bayer, through licensing agreements, will be able to continue marketing fipronil products in the United States, though such details have not yet been worked out.
... Aventis was the result of AgrEvo merging with Rhone Poulenc (Chipco).
The new Web site for Bayer is www.BayerES.com.
COPYRIGHT 2002 PRIMEDIA Business Magazines & Media Inc. All rights reserved.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group
June 3, 2002
Chemical Market Reporter
Bayer gets FTC green light - Breaking News Roundup - Federal Trade Commission approves Aventis Crop Science acquisition
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved Bayer AG's acquisition of Aventis Crop Science subject to the divestment and outlicensing of certain products. The European Commission approved the deal last month, To consummate the deal, FTC says Bayer must divest the insecticide fipronil for agricultural uses. The company can still market the product for non-agricultural uses through a co-exclusive license, except in Europe. The FTC ruling on fipronil is similar to the European Union (EU) ruling. ETC and EU also require Bayer to divest the insecticide acetamiprid in Europe and North America In addition, Bayer must divest the wheat herbicide Everest. The cotton defoliant Folex, previously marketed by Aventis, must now be marketed by a third party. In other news, Bayer has elected to keep its Bayer Faser GmbH fiber business. The company had been looking to sell the business, but no buyer came near Bayer's asking price.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Schnell Publishing Company, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group
August 3, 2001. SUBLEGALS, VOL. 4, NO. 5
LOUISIANA CRAWFISH FISHERMEN WIN CLASS ACTION CERTIFICATION IN LAWSUIT AGAINST PESTICIDE MANUFACTURER
WorldCatch News Network reported 1 August that St. Landry Parish District Court Judge James Genovese has granted certification for a class action lawsuit by hundreds of Louisiana crawfish farmers against Aventis, the manufacturer of the pesticide ICON. In their filing, the plaintiff fishermen claim crawfish harvests have been damaged by ICON contamination. Judge Genovese's 30 July ruling allows anyone claiming financial losses and damages as a result of their crawfish crop's exposure to ICON beginning in January 1999 to join the lawsuit if he/she: purchased ICON-treated seed for rice operations in Louisiana; or farmed crawfish in Louisiana; or participated in a sharecropping arrangement for the farming of crawfish in Louisiana. ICON, the product name for the chemical fipronil, is blamed for devastating Louisiana's 2000 and 2001 crawfish crops since its introduction as a pesticide in 1999. In 2000, Louisiana's crawfish production dropped a dramatic 40 percent. Although its purpose is to kill the water weevils attacking rice plants, ICON, according to the trial testimony of farmers and experts, also kills crawfish. During four days of trial, 36 witnesses appeared, mainly crawfish farmers and experts. More than a dozen farmers testified that once their crawfish crop was contaminated by ICON the crawfish crop died. They become contaminated either because the crawfish were harvested in ICON-treated rice fields or because tailwater containing ICON or its metabolites flooded the crawfish crop. Any crawfish farmer seeking more information or wishing to join the class action lawsuit should contact attorneys Hunter Lundy at (800) 259-1005 or Pat Morrow at (800) 356-6776. To see the WorldCatch report, go to: www.worldcatch.com.