12 Brown County farmers file suits against seed company
At least 12 Brown County farmers have filed lawsuits against a seed company over a genetically modified corn hybrid they claim cost them money.
All of the federal civil lawsuits are against Syngenta Corp., Syngenta Crop Protection and Syngenta Seeds.
According to court paperwork, the lawsuits claim that Syngenta’s release of Agrisure Viptera corn in the U.S. destroyed the export market of U.S. corn to China and other countries. That depressed prices for all domestic corn, according to the lawsuits.
Viptera seed has a genetically modified corn trait called MIR162. It was approved by the U.S. in 2010. But from 2013 through December, China refused to accept the hybrid.
Those who had filed cases as of Friday afternoon were Ross Ulmer, Wilbur Albrecht, Gary Wickersham, Darren Englehart, Verl Dinger, Roger McIntyre, Taylor Sumption, Christopher Lamb, Zacht Engelhart, Spencer Elgelhart, Jordan Engelhart and Rick Mettler. Sumption has filed two cases, one for Sumption Farms and one on behalf of Richland Farms.
The lawsuits also claim that Syngenta:
• Made materially misleading statements and/or failed to disclose the truth relating to the approval status of MIR162 in China and the effect the lack of approval would have on U.S. corn prices.
• Contaminated the U.S. corn and seed supply with MIR162, “which will continue to foreclose the U.S. export market to China in future years and will continue to lead to lower corn prices per bushel in the U.S. market.”
The lawsuits seek judgements that would:
• Order Syngenta to take steps to reconcile the “contamination.”
• Find the release of Viptera “constitutes a public nuisance.”
• Find the release of Viptera was negligent.
• Award damages, including compensatory relief, of more than $75,000, plus other damages.
No court dates have been set, according to the documents.
As of Friday afternoon, 43 such lawsuits had been filed in South Dakota, according to a federal court official. The in-state attorney in each of the cases is Timothy James, of Yankton. No court dates have been set.
Nationwide, class action suits against Syngenta have been filed. They claim that the company’s release of Viptera and Agrisure Duracade were detrimental to U.S. corn producers.
In the national media, Syngenta officials have said that the lawsuits have no merit and that its actions concerning Viptera and Duracade were transparent.
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