U.S. farmers and others in the corn industry could suffer losses of up to $3.4 billion as a result of Syngenta's decision to start selling genetically modified Agrisure Viptera seed before it was approved by China and other markets, according to The National Grain and Feed Association.
The NGFA's analysis lends strong support to claims by those who were financially harmed after corn prices dropped between 2013 and 2014, said Gregory F. Coplan, an attorney and principal at Coplan & Crane. Famers, exporters and grain handlers say their losses were a direct result of alleged misleading practices by Syngenta, a Swiss agricultural business.
Coplan & Crane is reviewing potential lawsuits against Syngenta, one of the largest agricultural companies in the world.
Syngenta allegedly led those working in the farm sector to believe China would allow genetically modified (GMO) corn seed into its country. Syngenta produced a GMO seed known as Agrisure Viptera or MIR 162. The genetic modification creates a strain of corn that is resistant to certain insects.
Viptera was approved by the United States government, but not by the Chinese government. Despite the fact China was one of the largest export markets for U.S. corn, and had a "zero tolerance" policy for unapproved GMO grain, Syngenta put the MIR 162 grain on the market, and told U.S. farmers and stockholders in 2012 that China's approval of the MIR 162 strain was only "days" away. Unfortunately, China did not approve MIR 162 for import until December 2014.
In 2013, however, China began rejecting corn shipments containing seeds with the unapproved GMO trait. That move resulted in a glut of grain in the markets for U.S. corn, and a significant worldwide price drop.
When China did begin accepting imports of Syngenta's Agrisure Viptera seed in December 2014, farmers had already suffered significant financial losses. Corn prices plummeted from up to $8 a bushel in 2013 to $3.25 a bushel in October 2014. Lawsuits accuse Syngenta of selling seeds to U.S. farmers without getting approval from China. The lawsuits also accuse Syngenta of misleading farmers about the timeframe when the seed could be sold in China, according to The Indianapolis Star.
"We know that farmers across the country are struggling as a direct result of Syngenta's actions," said attorney Coplan. "Farmers have lost billions of dollars because of Syngenta's reckless actions. This is a classic case of a billion-dollar corporation putting its profits above all else. Their misrepresentations caused great financial harm to corn growers and others in the farming industry. Syngenta must be held accountable."
The turmoil in the corn market two years ago has sparked recent changes in the Ag industry. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, grain handlers are banning GMO crops that have not received approval in all major overseas markets. They hope to avoid a repeat of the Viptera crisis involving China in 2013 and 2014, according to the article, which noted that grain handlers Cargill, Inc., and Archer Daniels Midland Co. have sued Syngenta for damages.
Syngenta, meanwhile, has denied the allegations, according to The Indianapolis Star and other media reports.
Benjamin A. Crane, also a principal at Coplan & Crane, said anyone in the farm sector who has been affected should take action quickly.
"When they're accused, a big corporation typically denies doing anything wrong," Crane said. "It will hire teams of attorneys to work behind the scenes to protect the company's best interests. That's why these lawsuits can be so difficult. Farmers and others affected by Syngenta's actions need attorneys with extensive experience who can look out for their interests. By contacting Coplan & Crane, you will be taking an important step in the right direction. We hold careless or reckless people and corporations accountable for their actions. It's important to start the legal process quickly. You only have a limited time. If you wait too long, you may lose your right to be compensated."
A law firm with a proven track record of producing positive results, Coplan & Crane offers free consultations. Whether you're a farmer or an investor in Illinois who lost income, contact Coplan & Crane to learn more about your rights.