Why is it important that Syngenta pay for its actions that caused the drop in corn prices?

  • Farmers Lost Billions of Dollars; It is Right That They Should Recover their Losses
  • Filing Suit in Civil Actions is a Constitutionally Guaranteed Right
  • Syngenta Should Not Keep its Profits from Prematurely Marketing MIR 162 When Its Actions Cost U.S. Farmers Billions of Dollars
  • This Lawsuit Will Send a Message to Syngenta and Other Seed Companies That They Should Not Put Farmers at Risk in an Effort To Achieve Profits

U.S. corn farmers lost billions of dollars in 2013 and 2014 as a result of Syngenta’s premature commercialization of MIR 162, a genetically-modified corn trait not yet approved by all of our major export partners. These losses were foreseeable to Syngenta; in fact, the National Grain and Feed Association had twice warned Syngenta in advance that its actions could cause these losses to farmers. Despite knowing that its actions could cause an implosion of the U.S. corn export market, Syngenta took a risk on the backs of the American corn farmer. That risk blew up not in Syngenta’s face; it blew up the wallets of the American corn farmer. Given these facts, it is right and proper that farmers be permitted to recover their losses from a company that profited from its own misconduct.

The lawsuits being filed by farmers against Syngenta are filed pursuant to a constitutional right to a jury trial in civil cases contained within the Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution. In fact, many of our forefathers, including Thomas Jefferson, refused to sign off on our constitution until this right was added to it within the Bill of Rights. This Seventh Amendment right should be just as dear to us as our right to free speech in the First Amendment and our right to bear arms in the Second Amendment. This constitutional right was tailor-made for citizens like American corn farmers to seek redress against companies like Syngenta before a jury of their peers.

In 2013, Syngenta achieved revenues from the sale of its corn products in an amount exceeding $3.5 billion. It is estimated that MIR 162 (“Viptera”) corn comprised approximately 25% of Syngenta’s corn sales that year. Syngenta prematurely commercialized MIR 162 and profited handsomely. Syngenta should not be allowed to keep its profits from prematurely marketing MIR 162, especially when its actions cost U.S. corn farmers billions of dollars.

One of the legitimate purposes of civil litigation is to dissuade companies from conducting their affairs like this. When Syngenta chose to take a risk on the backs of the American corn farmer, it did so intentionally. A decade ago, Bayer took similar risks with its new strain of genetically-modified corn. As a result, in four of six trials, juries assessed punitive damages against Bayer. This is just and right. This lawsuit will send a message both to Syngenta and to other seed companies that they should not put farmers at risk in an effort to achieve profits, and will go a long way to assuring that this conduct will never occur again.

Written by*:
Mikal C. Watts
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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