Many in the farming community are aware of pending litigation involving the Syngenta corn seed products, AgriSure, Viptera and Duracade.
Claims are currently pending on behalf of numerous farmers in the state of Illinois and throughout the country; including Federal Court in Missouri, State Court in South Carolina and in Minnesota, the corporate headquarters for Syngenta U.S.A.
The lawsuits developed after alleged issues surrounding Syngenta’s MIR 162 trait, a genetic strain of corn that protects corn plants from pests, including black cutworms, corn earworms, dingy cutworms and western bean cutworms. The Company allegedly invested 5 to 7 years and $200 million into developing the genetic modification. The seeds were approved by the USDA in 2010 and were first sold to American farmers in 2011. In its 2007 on-line launch policy of the MIR 162 trait, Syngenta stated that it would “conduct market and trade assessment to identify key import markets for all of our biotech products prior to product commercialization.”
Contrary to Syngenta’s claims, throughout 2009 and 2010, some major markets, particularly China, failed to approve importation of the MIR 162 strain. Despite this failure, in August of 2010, Syngenta released the MIR 162 seeds into the U.S. market for the 2011-2012 growing season without securing approval from China, and with knowledge that cross-pollination between corn strains could contaminate the U.S. corn supply.
In November of 2013, China began rejecting entire shipments of corn that tested positive for any trace of Viptera. As a result, domestic corn prices fell across the board.
According to the USDA, 20 percent of American corn is exported, and China is the leading importer. In August of 2011, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and the National Agricultural Export Grain Association issued a joint statement condemning Syngenta for selling MIR 162 before assuring its acceptance in foreign markets. The NGFA noted that exports of corn to China dropped by approximately 85 percent, and that farmers had suffered losses in excess of $1.14 billion as a result of the Viptera and Duracade seed corns which contained the MIR 162 strain. The NGFA further estimates that losses for the coming season could total as much as $3.4 billion due to large portions of the U.S. corn supply being contaminated through cross-pollination in the fields and consolidation of corn crops in grain elevators.
In August of 2016, the date to join the lawsuit against Syngenta was extended by two years. Since Syngenta’s conduct in the case caused cross-contamination that impacted the entirety of the corn market, not just the growers who used the Syngenta products, all farmers are eligible to participate in the litigation, whether they planted a Syngenta product or not.
If you have questions about the Syngenta lawsuit, contact our attorneys today for a free consultation at (217) 394-5885, or by filling out our on-line contact form.