Not meeting Chinese code for corn imports costs United States farmers millions. Before this issue, China was one of the United States’ largest corn export destinations. Syngenta is one of the world’s largest agriculture business organizations. With connections in ninety countries, Syngenta is a billion-dollar agricultural company used by thousands of hardworking American farmers.
Farmers throughout the United States are signing contracts to take their hefty losses to court. In 2013 when China rejected the imports, an expected five and a half to six million metric tons of corns were expected to be sent there. With corn prices being 6.89$ per bushel and also being approximately thirty-nine bushels per metric ton, the total loss was nearly 1.5 billion dollars. This is just for the year 2013, traces of the contaminants costed farmers over the next few years as well. The corn prices across the United States plummeted putting some farmers into an economic recession. Even through most of this corn was not a Syngenta product, corn is weighed and combined at elevators. This principal is called cross contamination. In other words, farmers were affected if they had used this Syngenta product or not since there is some Syngenta corn product in nearly all shipping crates.
Agrisure Viptera was approved in the United States in 2010, however China still had not approved this substance when Syngenta began selling it to customers. Agrisure Viptera is a genetically modified organism (or GMO) which takes care of insects above the ground such as corn ear worm, cutworm, armyworm, and corn borer. GMO’s are not uncommon as approximately ninety-percent of current seed is genetically modified in some way. When new seed technologies come out, the United States along with other countries governments test the product to make sure it is safe to humans and accomplishes the tasks assigned.
Syngenta has spoken out toward the claim, stating they are simply trying to create higher yields for their customers and helping them earn more profits. Syngenta said,”[it] has demonstrated major benefits for growers, preventing significant yield and grain quality losses resulting from damage by a broad spectrum of lepidopteran pests,” regarding Agrisure Viptera and its effect on farmers. Lawyers claim that Syngenta told farmers that China would “approve of Agrisure Viptera soon,” when China had not yet begun discussion in these matters. Insera, Kelley, and Sewell Attorney’s say, “These lawsuits claim the irresponsible marketing and release of the product before its approval by China caused businesses and individuals to suffer significant financial losses.” Syngenta also claims that all losses in China, were made up from exports to other places.
In June, a Kansas jury awarded over 200 million to local farmers in the Syngenta GMO class action law suit. Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota and other corn belt states have pending law suits, in addition to a national level claim. The lawsuit plans to not only get money back for farmers, but the United States corn industry as a whole. This includes grain distributors, grain elevators, and additional seed companies. The results from the Kansas lawsuit, in addition to the upcoming trial in Minnesota will determine if other lawsuits will go to trial or decide to settle in other states.