What does Archer Daniels Midland allege in its GMO corn lawsuit against Syngenta?

ADM alleges that Jurisdiction is Proper in Louisiana because ADM exported corn from its two largest export facilities there

ADM details facts concerning the U.S. Corn Export Market and the China Corn Import Market, Syngenta’s Actions Prior to its Commercial Sales of MIR 162 Seed, Syngenta’s Widespread Sale of MIR 162 Seed and Its Failure to Implement Reasonable Stewardship Practices

ADM alleges Damages to It Were Caused by Syngenta’s Conduct. Specifically, it alleges a tainting of the U.S. Corn Export Supply Chain via cross-pollination and commingling, and specifically, the tainting of corn in ADM’s possession or dried distillers grains with solubles.

ADM’s causes of action include negligence, unfair trade practices, violations of Louisiana’s consumer protection laws, and civil conversion.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (“ADM”) filed its lawsuit against Syngenta on November 19, 2014 in the 29th Judicial District for the Parish of St. Charles, State of Louisiana. Its Petition for Damages, in Case No. 79219, contains nineteen (19) pages and ninety-three (93) paragraphs of allegations against Syngenta.

ADM alleges jurisdiction is proper in Louisiana state courts because both ADM and Syngenta are Minnesota corporations, while Syngenta transacted business in Louisiana related to its provision of MIR 162 corn seed and while ADM exported corn from its two largest export grain terminals and elevators in Louisiana. (¶¶20-22).

ADM then provides a detailed factual background section (¶¶23-60), wherein it provided detailed information on three subjects. First, ADM provided facts concerning the U.S. corn export market and the China corn import market. Specifically,

  • 20% of the corn grown in the U.S. is exported throughout the world.
  • In 2013, China consumed approximately 24.5% of the world’s corn.
  • By the 2011-2012 season, “China purchased approximately 203 million bushels of corn from the United States, making China the third largest purchaser of exported U.S. corn, and accounting for approximately 13% of the total U.S. corn export market.” (¶¶23-26).

Second, ADM provided facts concerning Syngenta’s actions prior to commercial sales of MIR 162 seed. Initially, ADM details Syngenta’s assurances to USDA that it would implement reasonable stewardship actions for MIR 162 corn:

  • On August 31, 2007, Syngenta submitted a Petition for Determination of Nonregulated Status for Insect-Resistant MIR 162, promising that “there should be no effects on the U.S. maize export market” because Syngenta would implement “a product stewardship program” which would be mandatory for farmers buying MIR 162. Syngenta also promised that farmers’ “compliance will be monitored and enforced according to a fully documented compliance program.” (¶¶30-32). Syngenta promised the Department of Agriculture that its promised stewardship procedures “are not hypothetical” because it was “obligated” to implement this “specific and detailed stewardship program” that requires “growers to divert his product away from export markets (i.e. channeling) where the grain has not yet received regulatory approval for import.” (¶¶33-34).
  • As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted nonregulated status to MIR 162, citing Sygnenta’s statements that it was going to engage in a stewardship program, which would include “channeling” of MIR 162 corn to divert it away from export markets. (¶37).

Third, ADM provided facts concerning Syngenta’s application for import approval in China, which was not approved (¶¶38-39) until December 16, 2014.

In the meantime, Syngenta commercialized MIR 162 without foreign approvals, including China (¶¶40-43), and without implementing reasonable stewardship programs (¶¶44-52). Furthermore, ADM alleges that Syngenta “took affirmative actions that actually increased the likelihood that Viptera would, in fact, taint the export supply chain.” (¶53). Specifically, ADM alleges that Syngenta encouraged side-by-side planting, which increased the likelihood of cross-pollination, and led industry participants to believe approval from China had been achieved, when it had not been. (¶¶53-56). Moreover, Syngenta released Duracade without appropriate stewardship programs. (¶¶57-60).

Finally, ADM alleges damages caused to it by Syngenta’s conduct from the tainting of the U.S. export supply chain (¶¶61-74).

The legal causes of action specifically alleged by ADM include negligence under La.Civ.Code Ann. Arts. 2315 and 2316 (¶¶81-84), unfair trade practices and consumer protection act violations under La.Rev.Stat.Ann. §51:1409(A) (¶¶85-88), and civil conversion under La.Civ.Code Ann. Art. 2315 (¶¶89-92).
ADM sought a jury trial on all counts. Its case was removed to federal court by Syngenta; ADM has filed a motion to remand the case back to state court, which is set for hearing on April 27, 2015, before Hon. John W. Lungstrum, United States District Court, District of Kansas.

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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