In January, a massive class-action lawsuit was brought against the Swiss corn maker of the genetically modified corn strain Agrisure Viptera. Farmers, commodities exporters and grain elevator operators are claiming billions of dollars in damages after China refused to accept all shipments of U.S. corn in 2013 and 2014.
However, one lawsuit in particular raises questions about Syngenta’s motives in ways that the others do not. The suit, filed on behalf of two Newport farms, alleges that Syngenta intentionally tainted the nation’s crops in an attempt to force China to accept genetically modified corn.
Syngenta developed Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade in 2009 and 2012, respectively. It is a genetically modified organism (GMO) that was raised to carry the genetic trait MIR 162, which holds a particular resistance to cutworms and earworms. While the Viptera strain was approved by the U.S. in 2010, China did not approve it, however Syngenta sold it to the U.S. anyway.
As the U.S.’s main importer of corn and corn byproducts, China’s refusal to purchase any American crop dealt a devastating blow to U.S. markets. The losses claimed by farmers in this class action fall between $1 billion and $2.9 billion.
One of the biggest problems for corn producers came with abundant cross-contamination of the unmodified crops due to the Viptera strain. The presence of the unapproved trait MIR 162 rendered all other crops unfit for import because of this.
Additional allegations in the Newport lawsuit hinges on this inevitable cross-contamination. The Newport suit alleges that Syngenta violated the Racketeer Influence & Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a claim which is typically reserved for perpetrators of organized crime, in part because of its conspiracy to contaminate all U.S. crops with MIR 162.
The suit alleges that Syngenta “embarked on a plan to purposely undermine U.S. non-GMO corn growers and those resistant to growing Syngenta’s unapproved genetic corn traits.
“To that end, Defendants engaged in a scheme designed to inevitably taint and contaminate the U.S. Corn supply, effectively causing its economic vitality to be held hostage to MIR-162 trait GMO corn, knowing that the continuous marketing and sale of Syngenta’s MIR-162 trait corn seed would ultimately prejudice and disrupt the U.S. Corn export market and the U.S. Corn commodities market.”
As China continues to look to other countries, like Brazil, as an alternative exporter for corn and corn byproducts, the likelihood that it will once again return to U.S. markets to sate its appetite for corn products is shrinking.
Our Firm Helps You Recover from Your Losses
Bailey & Oliver Law Firm is prepared to fight on behalf of you, your family and your business in this class-action lawsuit. If you experienced losses because of Syngenta’s actions, you have the right to recover. Our lawyers are experienced and understand the gravity of the loss you’ve suffered. Contact us for a FREE review today.