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Syngenta Facing Lawsuits Over Genetically Modified Corn Seed Sales

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Los Angeles, CASyngenta, a Swiss agrochemical company, is facing dozens of lawsuits brought by US farmers alleging unfair business practices regarding its selling of genetically modified corn seed. According to lawsuits brought by more than 30 farmers in the the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Syngenta allegedly sold the seed to US farmers before China had approved and agreed to import the corn, resulting in drastically reduced corn prices.

Called Agrisure Viptera, the genetically modified seed did receive approval in the US in 2010, and Syngenta approached China that same year to allow the importation of the corn. However, Syngenta began selling the seed to farmers before it had received the go-ahead from China.

Further, the lawsuits allege that because corn cross-pollinates, all US corn became contaminated by the new seed. This resulted in China cutting off all corn imports from the United States in 2013. The lawsuits allege the exports of Viptera corn reduced US corn exports by 85 percent in 2014.

While China has subsequently approved importation of Viptera corn for feed and food use, the lawsuits are going ahead, as the farmers allege they have already been damaged by Syngenta’s actions.

According to one lawsuit filed in Ohio, Syngenta knew that Viptera corn would contaminate the US corn supply. Still, Syngenta “gambled US farmers’ livelihood on approval of Viptera by the major corn-importing countries,” the complaint states. Compounding problems for the farmers, Syngenta began selling a second genetically modified corn seed, Duracade, in late 2012, according to the lawsuit.

Currently, about 170 lawsuits are pending against the company, and more will likely follow.


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