- Syngenta marketed GMO corn seed MIR 162 (Viptera) in the United States before obtaining approval from our major trade partners, including China;
- Syngenta made promises to the U.S. Government which it did not keep;
- Syngenta failed to timely implement stewardship programs necessary to keep Viptera away from other approved corn;
- Syngenta minimized its problems obtaining regulatory approval for Viptera and suggested it had obtained approval from
China when it had not;
- When the Chinese detected unapproved MIR 162 in export shipments from the United States, China banned all U.S. corn, sending corn prices from $7.00/bushel to $3.25/bushel.
Syngenta developed and patented a genetically modified corn seed known as MIR 162, which it marketed under the trade names Viptera and Duracade. When Syngenta sought permission to sell MIR 162 in the U.S. in 2010, several U.S. trade partners, including China, had not approved the seed.
Before Syngenta could sell MIR 162 corn seed in the U.S., it applied for “nonregulated status” from the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”). In its application to the USDA, Syngenta promised that it
- would implement and enforce mandatory stewardship programs that would keep MIR 162 corn separated from non-MIR 162 corn; and
- would ensure that only regular corn would be “channeled” for distribution to export partners of the United States.
Syngenta promised the U.S. Government that, as a result of these efforts, there would be no effect on the U.S. corn export market. The USDA granted the requested “nonregulated status,” and Syngenta immediately began selling MIR 162 corn seed to farmers across the U.S.
Syngenta took no meaningful actions to implement an effective stewardship program for MIR 162 corn. While it controlled how MIR 162 corn seed was dispersed through the U.S. market, its failure to implement timely these stewardship programs resulted in MIR 162 corn being commingled with other approved corn across the U.S.
The National Grain and Feed Association (“NGFA”) warned Syngenta twice that its failure to implement a stewardship program could result in the rejection of U.S. corn exports by America’s major trade partners. The NGFA predicted U.S. corn farmers could lose corn income of up to $2.9 billion during crop year 2013 and up to $3.4 billion in crop year 2014 if Syngenta chose to continue selling MIR 162 before obtaining approval from U.S. corn trade partners.
Even worse, Syngenta minimized the risk of its failure to obtain regulatory approval for MIR 162 from U.S. corn trade partners:
- Several former Syngenta seed salesman have shared stories of being instructed to tell farmers that there was “no problem,” that approval “was imminent,” and that farmers “didn’t need to worry about it.”
- Syngenta caused farmers to believe that MIR 162 corn had received regulatory approval from China when, in fact, it had not. Syngenta posted on its website a document entitled a “Request Form for Biosafety Certificate(s) Issued by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture,” [LINK] which suggested that the Chinese had granted approval for MIR 162. This was not true.
- On April 18, 2012, Syngenta CEO Mike Mack stated on a recorded call with the U.S. investment community that Syngenta expected approval from China of MIR 162 “in a matter of a couple of days.” [LINK] This statement was also false, as Syngenta did not obtain approval for another two and one-half years, on December 16, 2014.
Syngenta’s actions caused MIR 162 corn to be detected by Chinese regulators in shipments of U.S. corn. First, China destroyed these shipments. Later, China implemented a ban on all U.S. corn. As a result, the price of corn fell from over $7.00/bushel in June 2013 to $3.25/bushel by June 2014, costing U.S. corn farmers billions of dollars.
* This information is provided to supply relevant information concerning the GMO corn lawsuit, and should not be received as legal advice. Legal advice is only given to persons or entities with whom Watts Guerra LLP has established an attorney-client relationship. If you have another lawyer in the GMO Corn lawsuit, you should consult with your own attorney, and rely upon his or her advice, rather than the information contained herein.