Hundreds of lawsuits filed in the past 12 months allege that monster seed company Syngenta Corp. knowingly marketed genetically modified seed as part of their Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade lines. American corn farmers grew that corn and sold it to grain handlers for distribution in international markets, only to find the product banned.
In 2013, one of US corn’s biggest customers, China, rejected GMO corn developed by Syngenta. The strain, known as Agrisure Viptera, has been engineered to protect the crop against damage from insects such as corn borer and corn rootworm. It has since been approved for import, but that has not slowed the wave of lawsuits being filed against Syngenta.
Many of those actions have been consolidated in Kansas federal court.
In Iowa alone, dozens of farmers and commodity traders, including Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland have sued.”Syngenta has caused damages to U.S. farmers, grain handlers and exporters,” a plaintiff’s filing in the case says. “Syngenta’s conduct in marketing, distributing and selling unapproved corn seed violates the legal standards of the marketplace because the primary market risk falls on U.S. farmers, grain handlers and exporters, not on Syngenta.”
The lawsuits claim the company was negligent because it sold GMO seed before it was approved by customers of U.S. corn
Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said the lawsuits “are without merit.” The company, he said, “strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability.”
Daniel Gasquet, a corn grower based in Natchez, Miss., said in a recent complaint that Syngenta “crippled” the corn export market to China, adding that the company knew or should have known that releasing the trait would have contaminated the U.S. supply and effectively closed off the Chinese export market.
The National Grain and Feed Association last spring estimated the U.S. industry suffered a $2.9 billion hit in reduced corn prices because of the market rejections. Syngenta AG is based in the Minneapolis area and has a Swiss parent estimated to be worth more than $24 billion.