WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2014 -- Corn farmers have filed federal class-action lawsuits against Syngenta Corp. in five Midwest states alleging that they were harmed by Syngenta’s premature release of genetically-engineered MIR 162 corn seed into the U.S. market before the seed received import approval from China, a key export market.
The suits -- filed in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska – were coordinated by Hausfeld LLP, a Washington, D.C., law firm. They charge that Syngenta’s decision to continue marketing MIR 162, also known as Agrisure Viptera, despite the lack of import approval from China, has caused U.S. corn to be effectively excluded from China, and domestic corn prices to be hurt as a result.
The complaints further allege that Syngenta has tried to downplay and misrepresent the significance of the export market for corn on U.S. corn prices with the intention of encouraging farmers to continue to buy and plant its MIR162 corn while knowing it would contaminate and impact the export market. The lawsuits also contend that Syngenta repeatedly suggested that China's approval of MIR 162 would happen imminently, when, in fact, Syngenta officials knew that China was no closer to approving MIR162.
In a statement, Syngenta said it believes the lawsuits are without merit, adding that the company “strongly upholds the rights of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability.”
The Agrisure Viptera trait was approved for cultivation in the U.S. in 2010. The trait protects corn plants against damage from a broad spectrum of lepidopteran pests.
Syngenta says it commercialized the trait in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements and obtained import approval from major corn importing countries.
“Syngenta has been fully transparent in commercializing the trait over the last four years,” the company said.
The complaints against Syngenta were brought on behalf of a nationwide class of corn farmers who grew, harvested, and sold non-MIR 162 corn on a commercial basis from November 2013 to the present, as well as on behalf of corn farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.
Lawsuits had previously been filed against Syngenta over MIR 162 by Cargill and Trans Coastal Supply Co, a major exporter of livestock feed products.
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