A number of our clients have inquired about the Syngenta corn lawsuit and how it might affect them. A full explanation is not possible in this space, but a brief summary may be helpful.
In 2010, Syngenta1 developed a genetically modified corn variety, Agrisure Viptera® (MIR 162), which it marketed to U.S. corn farmers for the 2011 crop year, with increased sales in the succeeding years, 2012-14. It did so knowing this new corn variety had not been approved for import by China and other major importers of U.S. corn. Later, Syngenta introduced another new corn variety, Agrisure Duracade,TM (Event 5307) which it also knew had not yet been approved for import to China and other markets. As farmers harvested these varieties and sold them to local elevators, they were commingled with the remainder of the U.S. corn supply.
In November 2013, China discovered U.S. corn shipments were contaminated with MIR 162 and began rejecting boatloads of U.S. corn. This had been foreseen by the corn industry, which had tried to convince Syngenta not to market MIR 162 corn to be grown by U.S. farmers until after it had been approved by China and the other major U.S. export markets. Rejection of U.S. corn exports in 2013 and 2014 resulted in a decline in world corn prices, affecting U.S. corn farmers in particular.
Several lawsuits have been commenced against Syngenta in various jurisdiction across the United States. Some of the earliest were brought by Cargill and ADM. The largest is a multi-district class action lawsuit proceeding in the Federal Court in Kansas. It includes claims for violations of federal statutes, as well as the laws of North Dakota and Minnesota, among many others.
For the most part, the claims are on behalf of corn growers that grew corn in crop years 2013 and 2014, and sold it, but did not knowingly grow Agrisure Viptera® or Agrisure Duracade.TM Claims have been made on behalf of sharecrop landowners as well as growers.
1 Syngenta AG is a Swiss corporation who, together with its subsidiaries and affiliated entities in both Switzerland and the United States, are the named defendants in most of the pending corn lawsuits.