RIA Novosti / Katerina Sovdagari
Agribusiness giant Syngenta AG now faces lawsuits from farmers in 11 US states claiming the seed-and-chemical company’s sale of a genetically-engineered variant of corn yet to receive approval in China depressed market prices for the grain.
At issue is Syngenta’s 2009 release and distribution of its MIR162 genetically-modified corn known as Agrisure Viptera, which is engineered to fend off certain insects known to decimate corn crops. While approved for use in the United States, Chinese regulators have yet to sanction the export of Viptera.
Last November, China began rejecting US corn shipments based on the existence of Viptera leading to more than $1 billion in damages for US farmers, plaintiffs in 11 states have alleged in various lawsuits filed in federal courts in recent weeks. RT reported earlier this month on three of these lawsuits against Switzerland-based Syngenta.
Farmers in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi joined the fray last week, as plaintiffs aim to reach class-action status with their combined suits, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Different varieties of wild or experimental peppers are displayed on a tablein a greenhouse, part of a global center which selects vegetable and fruit seeds, owned by global Swiss agribusiness Syngenta AG, in Sarrians, southeastern France. (AFP Photo / Sandra Laffont)
A lawsuit filed in Iowa alleged that the release of Syngenta’s Viptera caused the US-to-China corn export market to fall by 85 percent. “Syngenta’s decision to bring Viptera to the market crippled the 2013-14 corn export market to China,” plaintiffs in Nebraska stated in their own suit.
Plaintiffs have accused the company of engaging in willful misrepresentation. Syngenta has claimed that “the vast majority of corn produced in the US is used domestically,” plaintiffs have alleged, and that exports are not as important, though the US Department of Agriculture says 20 percent of corn produced in the US is exported.
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