Farmers sue over genetically modified corn seed

Posted on: January 22nd, 2015 by Steve Larson

CornHundreds of farmers are suing the Swiss company, Syngenta, for selling genetically modified corn seeds for a type of corn that China refused to import.  The farmers claim that Syngenta’s decision to sell the corn seed before China approved importing that type of corn pushed down all corn prices.  The lawsuit alleges that because corn cross-pollinates, all U.S. corn was viewed as contaminated by China.

The modified seed, known as Agrisure Viptera, was approved for planting in the United States in 2010.  Syngenta asked China to allow its import that year.  Instead of waiting for China’s approval, however, Syngenta began selling the modified seed.  That led China to cut off all corn imports from the United States in 2013.  The lawsuits say the introduction of Viptera corn without approval from China reduced U.S. corn exports by 85 percent in 2014.

According to Syngenta, China has now approved the import of Viptera corn grain for food and feed use. However, the farmers contend that they were already damaged by Syngenta’s actions prior to 2015.

Two grain exporters, Cargill Inc. of Minneapolis and Trans Coastal Supply Co. of Decatur, Ill., also are suing Syngenta.

In early December, several lawsuits against Syngenta were transferred to federal court in Kansas. Late last month, over 100 additional cases were transferred to the same court.