To participate in the GMO corn lawsuit against Syngenta, does it matter whether or not I grew Syngenta’s Viptera or Duracade seed?

Answer: “No.”

  • Syngenta introduced a GMO corn trait, MIR 162, and marketed it as Viptera Agrisure, then later introduced a different GMO trait marketed as Duracade Agrisure
  • During crop years 2013 and 2014, only three percent (3%) of the corn seed sold in the United States was Viptera Agrisure or Duracade Agrisure
  • Farmers who did not grow Syngenta seed were harmed from the drop in corn prices, just as those who did grow it were harmed
  • Farmers who planted Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure will have additional damages in the form of clean-up costs and transportation costs, yet likely will face different defenses from Syngenta

Syngenta introduced MIR 162 into the U.S. corn market in 2010, when it had not been approved by several of our major corn export partners. Before it could sell MIR 162 to U.S. farmers, Syngenta needed to obtain “nonregulated status” from the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). In its application for non-regulated status, Syngenta promised to implement mandatory stewardship programs to ensure that its non-approved strain would not be commingled with other strains already approved by our corn export partners. Based on Syngenta’s promises, the USDA granted nonregulated status to Syngenta for MIR 162 corn in April, 2010, and Syngenta began to sell its MIR 162 seed in the U.S. In February, 2013, the USDA granted nonregulated status to Syngenta for Duracade Agrisure, and Syngenta began to sell it here in the U.S. during crop year 2014.

During crop years 2013 and 2014, only three percent (3%) of the corn seed sold in the United States was Viptera Agrisure or Duracade Agrisure. Nonetheless, when China detected the presence of unapproved MIR 162 in U.S. shipments of corn, it first began to destroy such corn, and later, began turning away entire ships filled with any corn from the United States. The price of all corn in the United States plummeted as a result. Consequently, farmers who did not grow Syngenta seed were harmed from the drop in corn prices, just as those who did grow it were harmed.

Farmers who planted Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure will have additional damages in the form of clean-up costs and transportation costs, yet will face different defenses from Syngenta. Specifically, farmers who grew Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure will need to pay to have its presence removed from their grain bins, their harvesting equipment and their transport vehicles. Moreover, many farmers who grew Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure learned after they harvested this corn that many grain elevators refused to accept it. Consequently, those farmers had to transport their corn great distances in some instances in order to find a grain elevator that would accept and buy their corn. Those farmers have an additional claim for transport damages as well.

Syngenta, however, is likely to defend the cases brought by farmers who planted Viptera Agrisure and Duracade Agrisure differently from those claims brought by farmers growing seeds sold by other companies. After learning it would be sued by Cargill and ADM, Syngenta’s lawyers embedded specific language into their seed licensing agreements requiring farmers growing Duracade to agree to grow it at a minimum distance away from other corns, to keep the Duracade corn away from other corns, and to not sell it to grain elevators accepting other corns. Farmers who did so anyway will face different defenses than farmers who complied with the requirements embedded within their Duracade agreements.

Written by*:
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.

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