January 6, 2015 — Now that China has approved imports of a controversial genetically modified (GMO) corn seed, lawyers say they can begin working out a settlement for American farmers who suffered economic losses, according to Reuters.
The corn seed, Agrisure Viptera, was created by the Swiss biotech company Syngenta AG. The company is accused of recklessly and aggressively marketing the seed to American farmers, claiming its approval in China was imminent.
When China rejected 1.45 million metric tons of tainted corn seed, the price plummeted and farmers lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
In December 2014, China lifted their ban on imports of Viptera. As prices stabilize, lawyers will be able to calculate how much money their clients lost and seek compensation.
Syngenta insists that it has no intention of settling lawsuits, though they are facing litigation from some of the largest commodities traders in the United States, including Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co., and dozens of farmers.
$750 Million GMO Rice Settlement
This is not the first time American farmers have sought compensation for economic losses caused by GMO seeds. And because this catastrophe occurred several years before Viptera was marketed in the United States, lawyers might argue that Syngenta should have anticipated a similar economic outcome.
In July 2011, about 11,000 American rice farmers were paid a $750 million settlement after Bayer’s GMO rice tainted their crops and ruined export value, according to Bloomberg.
Trace amounts of Bayer’s LibertyLink GMO strain were found in American long-grain rice in August 2006. According to attorneys, the biotech seed cross-bred and “contaminated” more than 30% of American rice fields. The European Union, Japan, and Russia stopped buying the seed to test for the GMO strain, sending prices plummeting.
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