Syngenta faces lawsuits over genetically modified corn

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Syngenta is facing a wave of potentially costly lawsuits filed by disgruntled U.S. exporters and farmers who claim they racked up major losses because the company’s genetically modified Agrisure Viptera corn can’t be exported to China.

Switzerland-based Syngenta, one of the world’s largest purveyor of seeds, contends the lawsuits are without merit. The company’s global headquarters for its biotechnology research efforts are in Research Triangle Park, and its insect-resistant Viptera corn was discovered here.

Cargill filed the first such suit against Syngenta last month, contending it suffered more than $90 million in damages because its corn shipments have been rejected by Chinese authorities since November.

China hasn’t approved Syngenta’s Viptera corn and has rejected shipments upon detecting “even a trace amount” of it, according to Cargill’s lawsuit. Such “contamination” is inevitable, the lawsuit states, given the prevalence of corn grown from Viptera seed, cross-pollination of corn between farms and the commingling of corn from different farms when transported. “According to one study, the loss of the Chinese market for U.S. grown corn has already cost the U.S. grain industry up to $2.9 billion in damages,” the Cargill lawsuit states.

Since Cargill filed its complaint, more than a dozen suits with similar claims, many of them seeking class action status, have been filed by farmers, said James Pizzirusso of Hausfeld, a Washington law firm that is coordinating lawsuits filed in several states. At least one other exporter, Trans Coastal Supply, also has sued Syngenta.

The lawsuits also contend that domestic corn prices have fallen because of the loss of the Chinese market, which previously was the No. 3 export market for U.S. corn. Syngenta promoted the sale of Viptera seed to farmers “to line its own pockets at the expense of farmers who it knew would be impacted by China’s rejection of this GMO (genetically modified) trait,” Pizzirusso said.

Syngenta generated $14.7 billion in worldwide sales last year, including $3.2 billion in seed sales. It also produces crop protection products such as herbicides and insecticides. Syngenta invested about $200 million to develop Viptera corn, according to one lawsuit.

Syngenta said it was limited in what it could say about pending litigation, but issued a statement stating that the lawsuits have no merit and that the company “strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability.”

The company also noted that Viptera was approved for cultivation by U.S. regulators in 2010 and that it was commercialized “in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements.”

Are you a corn farmer who has been impacted by the rejection of Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera™ MIR 162 corn or Duracade™ and DDGS shipments to China? Have depressed corn and DDGS prices hurt your bottom line? If so, you may have legal rights to hold Syngenta responsible for depressing the market prices for corn and DDGS by marketing the generically-modified corn seed without having approval for import into China.

Farmers who did not plant Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade™ or Viptera™ MIR 162 corn but who suffered financial injury due to depressed market prices caused by the rejection of MIR 162 corn shipments by China may have the ability to hold the bio-tech company accountable for those losses.

Attorneys at Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. are currently investigating the legal rights of farmers who had the value of their corn and DDGS hurt by Syngenta’s actions.

To learn more about how corn farmers may be able to hold Syngenta accountable for depressing the U.S. corn and DDGS markets, contact us today for a free consultation by going to our website at http://www.cglawms.com or calling 601-948-8005.

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