Biotech Hit With Billion Dollar Lawsuit for ‘Ruining Corn Industry’
China refuses US corn exports due to GMO contamination
Biotech giant Syngenta may have single-handedly ruined the US corn industry with their GMO corn variety, and now they face a billion-dollar class action suit in three states after China has refused US corn exports repeatedly.
Syngenta released its variety of GMO corn prior to it being approved for sale in China while making US farmers think it was going to be accepted.
Omaha-based Volnek Farms, the lead plaintiff in a $1 billion claim in Omaha Federal Court says that Syngenta:
“. . .destroyed the export of U.S. corn to China and caused depressed prices for all domestic corn.”
Volnek Farms is joined by plaintiffs including Cronin Inc. and Jim Ruba Jr. in Sioux City, Iowa, who don’t even use GM corn, but have been harmed by Syngenta’s release of Viptera GMO due to corn prices being depressed overall. Exported corn is being refused and domestic corn prices are taking a beating.
This billion dollar lawsuit comes on the heels of another. Cargill, the Big Ag giant, filed a lawsuit against Syngenta for $90 million this past September for damages against export trade losses due to China’s refusal of more than 1.4 million metric tons of corn when regulators there found traces of GMO Agrisure Viptera (MIR162), designed to create its own insecticide.
Syngenta is also the same company that Anthony Gucciardi reported on which hid animal deaths caused by additional strains of their GMO corn.
The full complaint of the most recent lawsuit against Syngenta is as follows:
“(1) Syngenta’s release of Viptera corn into the U.S. corn and corn seed supply, which has destroyed the export of U.S. corn to China and caused depressed prices for all domestic corn; (2) Syngenta’s materially misleading statements relating to the approval status of MIR162 in China and the impact the lack of approval would have on the market; and (3) Syngenta’s widespread contamination of the U.S. corn and corn seed supply with MIR162, which will continue to foreclose the U.S. export market to China in future years and will continue to lead to lower corn prices per bushel in the U.S. market, as a result.”
Yet another class action suit, though for a smaller dollar amount, was filed in a Springfield, Illinois Federal Court.
The Syngenta variety was released for distribution back in 2009 before it had been approved for sale on foreign markets – the United States grew nearly 10.8 billion bushels (273.8 million metric tons) of corn over the last few years, and roughly 7% of production was exported to more than 100 different countries. Among them, Japan (37%), Mexico (24%), and China (13%) comprise the bulk of U.S. corn destinations.
It is likely that Brazil and Argentina will now take over the US corn market share since this ‘oversight’ by Syngenta.
Syngenta’s MIR162 corn was engineered to protect against insects such as the corn borer and corn rootworm. While it got a green light form the USDA and EPA here in the US, foreign countries don’t want it. Chinese regulators continue to refuse corn shipments from the US due to the trace amounts of GM corn found in other shipments. Since the US sold more than 5 million tons of corn to China in 2012-2013, the plaintiffs point out that ‘significant demand’ for US corn, which was expected to grow, will now likely be eradicated.
There are no other indications that China refused US corn for any other reasons, aside from the GM seed contamination. This represents an 85% drop in corn exports for US farmers, already.
The National Grain and Feed Association has asked Syngenta to stop selling its genetically altered varieties of corn, but there is no legal precedence for their action.
Syngenta’s “Plant with Confidence” fact sheet on the Agrisure Viptera trait assures farmers that “the vast majority of corn produced in the U.S. is used domestically,” and that in the past five years only 13% of U.S.-produced corn has been sold abroad, with China importing little more than 0.5% of it.
This makes no difference though, considering even .5% of the market amounts to billions over a few years. This downplay of Syngenta’s responsibility is countered even by the U.S. Department of Agriculture who claims that 20% of US corn grown is normally shipped to China.
The USDA’s website states merely that the United States’ export relationship with China is “difficult to predict.”
Not anymore. Syngenta has just wiped the US from the corn export business.
It isn’t the company’s first time facing a legal battle for their egregious acts with biotech crops, either. In 2011, Syngenta sued Bunge North America, a grain elevator firm, for posting signs announcing it would not accept Viptera corn. Syngenta’s request that Bunge remove the signs was denied in Federal Court. It looks like they were intent on selling their poison crop one way or another.
The only thing that might save domestic corn prices now is the arctic weather that is sweeping across the nation. Corn prices have been slowly rising only because ranchers have been forced to purchase more corn to feed their animals.
“Corn for December delivery advanced 0.8 percent to $3.8075 a bushel at 5:06 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures jumped to $3.85 yesterday, the highest price since July 18. Wheat for delivery in March dropped 0.5 percent to $5.4525 a bushel after climbing to $5.49yesterday, the highest since Sept. 3.”
While this might temporarily save corn farmers’ purse strings, it doesn’t bode well for the long term since animals fed with GMO corn and soy feed have been found to have multiple health problems, which then get passed on to consumers of their meat.
“. . . what happens when animals are confined in cramped, filthy environments and force-fed monoculture diets of genetically modified corn and soy?
A lot can happen. Calves are born too weak to walk, with enlarged joints and limb deformities. Piglets experience rapidly deteriorating health, a ‘failure to thrive” so severe that they start breaking down their own tissues and organs – self-cannibalizing – to survive. Many animals suffer from weak, brittle bones that easily fracture. Dairy cows develop mastitis, a painful udder infection. Beef cattle develop liver abscesses and an excruciating condition referred to as “twisted gut.’”
Perhaps ranchers will be the next in line to sue Syngenta.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.