- Corn exporter Cargill filed the first lawsuit against Syngenta in the country
- Corn exporters Transcoastal Supply and Archer Daniels Midland Company filed suit shortly thereafter
- By the end of April in 2015, more than 7,000 individual farmers have filed lawsuits against Syngenta. Many grain elevator companies and corn exporters also have filed suit against Syngenta
- The suits are consolidated primarily in two places: Minneapolis, Minnesota and Kansas City, Kansas. It anticipated that more than 100,000 farmers will timely file suit against Syngenta
On September 12, 2014, Cargill filed the first lawsuit in the country filed against Syngenta for its improper marketing of its GMO corn seeds known as Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure.
Corn exporter Transcoastal Supply Company filed suit four days after Cargill. By October 2nd, five statewide class actions had been filed against Syngenta; by October 18, eleven statewide class actions had been filed. Archer Daniels Midland Company (“ADM”) filed suit on November 19, 2014. By December 1, 2014, hundreds of farmers had filed suit against Syngenta.
The Joint Panel on Multidistrict Litigation held a hearing in Charleston, South Carolina on December 4th, and ruled a week later that the numerous claims filed in federal court shared common issues of law and fact, and should be consolidated for pretrial and discovery purposes before Judge John W. Lungstrum in Kansas City, Kansas. Since then, more than 500 lawsuits filed in federal courts have been transferred into this MDL proceeding. Syngenta’s U.S. subsidiaries are based in Minnesota, Delaware and North Carolina; consequently, Syngenta may be sued in state courts there. As of the end of April, 2015, more than 7,000 lawsuits have been filed in the state courts of Minnesota. These lawsuits consist of claims brought by producers (farmers and landlords) and non-producers (grain elevators and corn exporters).
The claims filed by farmers are in near-alignment with the claims initially brought by Cargill and ADM. Each has alleged that Syngenta obtained permission to sell its GMO strain known as MIR 162 by promising the U.S. government affirmative steps to achieve complete segregation of MIR 162 (not then approved by all our major export partners) from other corns for which export approval had been obtained. Each alleges that Syngenta failed to implement appropriate stewardship programs, and that as a result, its unapproved strain was mixed in with other approved strains. This mixing of approved and unapproved corn strains resulted from cross pollination, commingling and channeling, collectively resulting in unapproved MIR 162 and Duracade appearing in U.S. export shipments of corn. The lawsuits allege that its presence in U.S. export shipments caused the implosion of the U.S. corn export market, and the consequent drop in the price of corn enjoyed by American corn farmers. Before the Chinese began detecting the presence of MIR 162 in export shipments, the price of corn was above $7.00 per bushel; after news reports chronicled its detection by Chinese regulators, the price quickly fell to $3.25 per bushel. Thus, as a direct consequence of Syngenta’s actions, these lawsuits allege that American corn farmers suffered billions of dollars in lost corn income.
Because there are 440,000 corn farmers in the United States – all of whom suffered financial injury at the hands of Syngenta, the thousands of lawsuits filed thus far will surely be joined by tens of thousands of more suits in the near future. It anticipated that more than 100,000 farmers will timely file suit against Syngenta.
Mikal C. Watts
WATTS GUERRA, LLP
Four Dominion Drive, Bldg. Three, Suite 100
San Antonio, Texas 78257
* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the GMO corn lawsuit, and should not be received as legal advice. Legal advice is only given to persons or entities with whom Watts Guerra LLP has established an attorney-client relationship. If you have another lawyer in the GMO Corn lawsuit, you should consult with your own attorney, and rely upon his or her advice, rather than the information contained herein.