20 States Join Syngenta GMO Corn Class Actions

20 States Join Syngenta GMO Corn Class ActionsJanuary 21, 2015 — Lawsuits against Syngenta AG on behalf of corn farmers and exports have not slowed, despite China’s recent approval of genetically modified (GMO) corn imports.

The GMO trait, known as MIR162 and marketed under the brand-name Agrisure Viptera, is resistant to certain insects that attack corn.

Law360 reports that a Missouri corn farmer has filed a lawsuit, joining over 150 similar cases pending against the Swiss agribusiness.

According to the complaint:

“Although it knew that it lacked approval from Chinese authorities, Syngenta misinformed farmers, grain elevators, grain exporters, and the general public into believing that regulatory approval of MIR162 corn from China was imminent and that the lack of Chinese approval would not impact the corn market prices.”

Syngenta’s decision to bring Viptera to market before Chinese approval “crippled” the export market in 2012 and 2013. Even so, Syngenta then released Duracade, the second-generation of Viptera. This contaminated the “vast majority” of American corn, sending prices plummeting and costing the industry at least $1 billion, according to the lawsuit.

Several major farms and at least 20 states have also filed class actions against Syngenta, according to Law360.

States involved in the litigation include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Most of the cases have been centralized in federal court in Kansas. It is unclear how large the litigation will grow, but in 2011 Bayer paid $750 million to resolve a very similar litigation involving GMO rice on behalf of 11,000 farmers.

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