Syngenta Corn Litigation: What South Carolina Farmers Need to Know
Syngenta Corn Litigation involves local South Carolina Farmers. What do you need to know about this lawsuit?
What is Syngenta and Viptera?
Syngenta Corn Litigation potentially impacts thousands of South Carolina farmers. Syngenta AG, one of the world’s largest crop chemical producers, is a Swiss agricultural company which produces herbicides, fungicides, and genetically modified (GMO) crop seeds.
In 2009, the company released a modified strain of corn named MIR162—otherwise known as Agrisure Viptera—which was genetically engineered to protect corn against damage caused by harmful insects such as corn borer and corn rootworm. Syngenta alleged that corn containing the Viptera trait was healthier and less affected by insects than other strains of corn that did not contain the trait.
How Viptera Devastated the U.S. Corn Market
In order for a United States farmers to reap the greatest financial benefits possible, they must have the ability to export crops to major foreign markets. Critical to large farmers is the capability to sell crops to China, which is the world’s largest importer of agricultural products.
Trouble arose when Syngenta released Viptera onto the market before the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture approved the strain. The company convinced farmers to purchase Viptera seeds by assuring them that approval from China would occur “within the matter of a couple of days.” In actuality, Chinese officials did not approve Viptera until over a year later.
China began to reject shipments of corn from the United States due to Viptera being a strain of corn that had not been approved by Chinese officials. By 2014, China had rejected 1.45 million tons of U.S. corn due to the presence of the Viptera strain, and U.S. exports of corn to China came to an almost complete halt, with exports down as much as 85 percent. This decline in exports essentially shut the United States out of the Chinese market.
The ban on corn from the United States proved economically devastating to farmers. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) estimated up to $2.9 billion in financial losses. As a result of this financial loss, the NGFA, along The North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA), issued a statement requesting Syngenta to cease sales of Viptera and Duracade—a successor strain of corn released in 2014—until the products were approved by China and other export markets.
Duracade—Repeating the Past?
Like its predecessor, the approval of Duracade for importation has met with resistance from major United States export markets, including China. The NGFA estimated that disruption of trade with China as a result of Duracade could result in a financial loss of up to $3.4 billion for United States farmers.
Litigation and Settlement
In September of 2014, agricultural giant Cargill, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Syngenta for commercializing genetically modified corn that had not been approved for importation to China, resulting in millions of dollars in lost revenue to the company.
Within one month of Cargill’s lawsuit, United States farmers had filed lawsuits against Syngenta in eleven states. These cases were soon consolidated into a multidistrict litigation (MDL No. 2591) overseen by Judge John W. Lungstrum in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.
Syngenta Corn Litigation includes claims against the company by individual farmers. As with any case, it is possible that Syngenta would agree to a settlement to compensate farmers for lost earnings. In 2011, Bayer AG entered into a $750 million settlement to resolve claims from 11,000 United States farmers who were adversely affected by a strain of genetically modified rice called LLRice.
Do I Have a Claim Against Syngenta for Lost Revenue?
If you are a member of the corn industry and believe that you have been adversely affected by an inability to export corn to China, you may be eligible to file a claim against Syngenta AG and become involved in Syngenta Corn Litigation. If you would like to file a claim, the Mass Tort Team at the Lovely Law Firm is here to help. To schedule a case evaluation at no charge to determine your eligibility to file a claim, call 843-839-4111.
Syngenta’s Viptera website: http://www.syngenta-us.com/agrisure/agrisure-viptera.aspx
China bans U.S. Corn: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303873604579493790405023808