Three class-action lawsuits filed Friday claim that agribusiness power Syngenta is to blame for depressed corn exports to China since the seed company released a genetically-engineered variant of the crop before it was approved by Beijing. At issue is Syngenta’s 2009 release and distribution of its MIR162 genetically-modified corn known as Agrisure Viptera, which is engineered to fend off certain insects known to decimate corn crops. While approved for use in the United States, Chinese regulators have yet to sanction the export of Viptera.
Syngenta “destroyed the export of U.S. corn to China and caused depressed prices for all domestic corn,” Omaha-based Volnek Farms claims as lead plaintiff in a $1 billion claim in Omaha Federal Court. The United States is the world leader in corn production.
In Sioux City, Iowa, lead plaintiffs Cronin Inc. and Jim Ruba Jr. claim that they do not even use GM corn, but they have been hurt because of (1) Syngentas release of Viptera corn into the U.S. corn and corn seed supply, which has destroyed the export of U.S. corn to China and caused depressed prices for all domestic corn; (2) Syngentas materially misleading statements relating to the approval status of MIR162 in China and the impact the lack of approval would have on the market; and (3) Syngentas widespread contamination of the U.S. corn and corn 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, as a result.
Agrisure Viptera was released and distributed for planting in 2009, with a second generation version known as Agrisure …
Concern over the safety of genetically engineered food may have played a role in a recent decision by Chinese officials to move away from GE production of the nation’s own. In August, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it would not continue with a program that developed genetically-modified rice and corn.
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