The first of thousands of GMO corn lawsuits filed against Swiss agribusiness company Syngenta went on trial June 5 in Kansas City. The case involves four Kansas farmers representing approximately 7,300 farmers from the state who claim losses related to the company’s move to introduce a genetically engineered corn seed variety to the U.S. market before China improved it for imports.
The Syngenta lawsuits make allegations that the company’s decision led to a dramatic drop in the export market for U.S. corn, and resulted in price decreases that damaged corn producers. The lawsuits blame the company for a decline of 11 cents per bushel in U.S. corn prices and estimated losses in excess of $5 billion.
GMO Corn Lawsuit allegations
The Syngenta lawsuits, filed by farmers and exporters, allege that Syngenta attempted to commercialize a genetically modified corn seed product, Agrisure Viptera, by misleading the agriculture industry about China’s timeline for import approval. Agrisure Viptera was approved in the U.S. in 2010 but had not been approved for sale in China when it was introduced there.
According to court documents, Syngenta initially told stakeholders that China, a major U.S. corn buyer, would approve MIR162 in time for the 2011 crop and continued to aggressively market the corn even when the company became aware that gaining Chinese approval would likely become an issue. China finally approved GMO imports of Viptera corn in December 2014, but the damage had already been done. Plaintiff experts estimate the economic damage at approximately $5 billion, but Syngenta denies the losses.
The lawsuits have been consolidated in Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas. The next case involves about 60,000 cases and is scheduled to begin trial July 10 in state court in Minneapolis, the home base of Syngenta’s North American seed business.