December 3, 2014 — The St. Louis Business Journal reports that farmers in Missouri are seeking class action status for a lawsuit accusing Switzerland-based Syngenta AG of misleading them about Agrisure Viptera, a genetically modified (GMO) corn seed.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs did not plant Viptera, but suffered economic losses after Syngenta started selling the seed in 2011 before it was approved in China.
According to Courthouse News, at least three state have filed class actions seeking billions of dollars in damages. Lawsuits claim Syngenta “destroyed the export of U.S. corn to China and caused depressed prices for all domestic corn.”
When China banned imports of GMO corn seed last year, over 1.4 million metric tons of American corn could not be exported because trace amounts of Viptera contaminated corn from farmers who did not plant the seed.
Although only 3% of American corn fields were planted with GMO corn, cross-contamination is essentially impossible to prevent due to cross-pollination. Furthermore, GMO and non-GMO corn is stored and shipped on shared equipment. In 2011, Syngenta sued Bunge North America, a grain elevator firm, for refusing to accept Viptera.
Syngenta is accused of recklessly marketing GMO corn before it was approved for sale in China, while misleading American farmers by insisting it was going to be accepted. Instead, the release of Viptera led to an 85% drop in Chinese imports of American corn.
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