A group of farmers in the US have filed a class lawsuit against Syngenta, accusing the Swiss agrochemical company of misleading them over a genetically-modified seed corn, which was rejected by the Chinese market.
Syngenta’s MIR162 corn, known as Agrisure Viptera, contains a protein that kills off damaging insects such as corn earworm, army worm and corn borer.
In November 2013, inspectors in China found traces of the protein in imported corn. Since then the import levels of US corn into China have fallen by 85% and the country has said it will not accept any MIR162 corn.
Lawsuits were filed in at least five states in the US, adding to similar existing cases filed by companies Cargill and Trans Coastal Supply Co. in September.
The producers say that Syngenta played down China’s significance in the corn market, the timing of approval of the corn type there and the overall influence of the export market on corn prices.
They are looking to claim more than $1 billion (CHF960 million) in damages.
In a statement, Syngenta said they believe that “these lawsuits are without merit” and that growers have the right “to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies