Syngenta, a GM seed and chemical company, is facing legal trouble after lawsuits were filed by U.S. farmers. Farmers in 11 states have sued Syngenta in the past few weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal. The farmers' lawsuits allege that they suffered significant losses, because the biotech company sold genetically engineered corn seeds to U.S. farmers before the corn was approved by the Chinese government for import.
China rejected U.S. corn shipments that contained the Syngenta genetically modified corn last year. Farmers state that those rejections then lowered the overall market prices for grain. The result, the farmers allege, were losses in excess of $1 billion for U.S. farmers, according to the lawsuits. Those lawsuits were not the first blow to Syngenta. Last month, grain exporters filed lawsuits alleging the ag giant caused the loss of tens of millions of dollars.
Syngenta says that the company was always transparent about the GMO seeds known as Viptera and their approval process.
"We continue to believe that [we have] complied with all the laws, rules and regulations of the countries in which we're selling the product," Syngenta's chief financial officer said.
The farmers' lawyers stated that when China rejected U.S. corn imports, the price of corn dropped by about 11 cents a bushel. The lawsuits allege that Syngenta deliberately misled the farmers.
"Syngenta should not have marketed and aggressively promoted Viptera while misrepresenting that Chinese approval was imminent and also downplaying the importance of the Chinese export market," a partner at Hausfeld LLP, a law firm coordinating some of the lawsuits against Syngenta, said.
It might be difficult to prove that the decreases in corn prices were directly caused by China's rejection of the corn, Christopher Hurt, professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, told the Wall Street Journal.
"I also don't know how they will counter the argument that says 'you planted it voluntarily, and it has this restriction on it,'" Hurt said.
It's been a rougher than usual year for the agricultural giants in the face of lawsuits and political opposition. Earlier this month, Inquisitr reported that Monsanto, another seed-and-chemical company, disappointed its share holders at a teleconference discussing fourth quarter earnings. For the quarter ending in November, Monsanto officials had to explain that shareholders should expect earnings to be about half of what the company posted last year.
GMO labeling efforts and ballot initiatives have also been a threat to agricultural giants like Syngenta and Monsanto. In addition to the lawsuits like those Syngenta has recently faced, Boise Weekly just announced that biotech companies and GMO proponents have spent another $20 million to fight against labeling laws proposed on the upcoming ballots in Oregon and Colorado.
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