First Lawsuit Against Syngenta Over GMO Corn- China Export Losses– Goes to Court

Associated Press writer Steve Karnowski reported earlier this week that, “The first of tens of thousands of U.S. lawsuits is about to go to trial against Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its decision to introduce a genetically engineered corn seed variety to the U.S. market before China had approved it for imports.

The lawsuits allege that Syngenta’s move wrecked an increasingly important export market for U.S. corn, and that the resulting price drops hurt all producers. Court filings show that Syngenta aggressively marketed the seeds even when it knew that Chinese approval was going to be a problem.

Plaintiffs’ experts estimate the economic damage to be about $5 billion, while Syngenta denies its actions caused any losses for farmers.”

The AP article noted that, “The first test case goes to trial Monday in state court in Minneapolis. The second goes to trial in federal court in Kansas City, Kansas, on June 5. The two cases are meant to provide guidance for how the complex web of litigation in state and federal courts could be resolved.”

Mr. Karnowski added that, “With U.S. government approval, Syngenta began selling Viptera in the U.S. for the 2011 growing season. But China didn’t approve it until December 2014.

“Court papers show that Syngenta initially assured stakeholders that China would approve MIR162 in time for the 2011 crop. But the date kept slipping. Some exporters sent shipments containing the trait to China anyway. After two years of accepting them, China began rejecting them in late 2013.

“One expert working for the plaintiffs estimated the damage to U.S. farmers to be $5.77 billion; another pegged it at $4.68 billion.”

This week’s article indicated that, “Most plaintiffs didn’t grow Viptera, but China excluded their grain, too, because elevators and shippers typically mix grain from large numbers of suppliers, making it difficult to source corn that was free of the trait. So they say all farmers were hurt by the resulting price drop.”

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