Three firms file class action suits against Syngenta on behalf of corn farmers

Farm Forum

DALLAS — Three law firms that played a major role in a recent $750 million settlement on behalf of U.S. rice farmers who suffered financially due to genetically modified rice seed have filed two class-action lawsuits on behalf of U.S. corn farmers now suffering similar economic losses from genetically modified corn.

The three firms filed their complaints on November 11 in federal court in St. Louis and Kansas City, Kan., and amended them on Dec. 18 to include 20 states, making it the most comprehensive action taken on this issue to date. These 20 states represent 86 percent of the corn planted in the United States in 2014.

Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. of St. Louis, Gray Reed & McGraw, P.C. of Texas and Hare Wynn Newell & Newton of Birmingham, AL filed their class-action lawsuits accusing Switzerland-based Syngenta of causing economic harm to corn growers after the company marketed two genetically modified strains of corn – Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade – that have been outlawed in China. China, a major importer of U.S. corn, began refusing shipments of U.S. corn one year ago after a genetic trait found in Viptera – MIR162 – was detected in the shipments.

With the loss of the Chinese market, prices for U.S. corn have plummeted. Earlier this year, losses to corn growers and the industry due to the loss of the Chinese market were estimated to be from $1 billion to $2.9 billion. The corn growers’ financial losses continue to grow, the lawsuits allege.

This new multi-state lawsuit further alleges that the company was aware of the potential damages from its actions but sold the seeds with MIR162 anyway.

The 20 states included in these latest MIR162 class action lawsuits account for approximately 86 percent of all corn acres in the United States. They are Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Oklahoma, Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kansas, Montana.

The three firms anticipate that they will be representing farmers from other corn-producing states in the near future.

The firms have introduced a website specifically for those interested in learning more about these Viptera class action lawsuits against Syngenta and how corn growers can become a part of them: