Syngenta Lawsuits: Helping Corn Farmers Recover Lost Income

Syngenta's bungled product launch caused corn prices to drop

Corn Farmers’ Case Against Syngenta

In November 2013, China — a major importer of US corn — began rejecting shipments of US corn amid concerns that genetically-modified product containing the MIR 162 trait had been comingled with the rest of the corn crop. This caused a precipitous decline in US corn prices.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) pegged the economic impact of China’s ban on Syngenta GMO corn at $2.9 billion between November 2013 and April 2014. Some experts contend that the market has yet to recover, thus the total economic impact might be even greater.

Despite the fact that one of our largest agricultural trading partners had yet to approve Agrisure Viptera MIR 162, Syngenta began selling the product in 2011. By 2012, the company was allegedly misinforming farmers, grain elevators and exporters about the prospects of China approving the corn for import. The company was very explicit in its statements and even launched a “Plant with Confidence” marketing campaign. In an April 2012 earnings call, Syngenta CEO Michael Mack stated that he expected China to clear Agrisure Viptera MIR 162 “within a matter of a couple of days.” That approval did not come until December 2014.

The company encouraged farmers to buy the seed and plant it next to corn grown from other seeds. This potentially caused cross-pollination of the MIR 162 trait. Furthermore, MIR 162 corn was comingled with non-MIR 162 corn, making it impossible to isolate the offending product from grain shipments. While only 3 percent of American fields were planted with Viptera and Duracade (released in 2014), we believe that nearly every corn farmer in the nation was negatively impacted by this disastrous product launch.

When China began enforcing its zero-tolerance policy for the presence of Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera MIR 162 in corn imports, a series of major market disruptions ensued. This caused US corn crops to be sold at a discount in domestic markets. The NGFA’s preliminary estimate is that China’s refusal of US corn reduced prices by 11 cents per bushel, driving corn prices down to a five-year low. Subsequent estimates show a loss of 20 to 30 cents per bushel.

The bottom line: We believe farmers should be compensated because Syngenta took money out of their pockets when its product caused corn prices to collapse.

Updated May 8, 2018

On May 11, 2018, the 150-day settlement claim form filing period will begin. That same day, the 20-page court-ordered settlement notice will be mailed to every U.S. corn producer. It is lengthy and detailed. So is the claim form. By law, the notice must be sent to all U.S. corn producers. You will receive it soon.

The good news is that we have your back. You need not be concerned with the notice or settlement claim form. We will prepare your claim form and send it to you for your review and signature.

You will receive your completed claim form directly from us. In early June, we will begin sending claim forms to our clients on a rolling basis. Please be on the lookout for your claim form. It will arrive in a large 8 ½ by 11 envelope – along with a postage pre-paid return envelope. All you will have to do is review it, sign it, date it and return it to us. We will take it from there. You will receive your settlement distribution in the spring of 2019.

We are your lawyers. We will make sure your claim is timely filed. And we will deal with the settlement administrator regarding any follow-up questions or issues. We will do what we promised to do, so you can keep doing what you do best.

You do not need to take any action at this point, except to be on the lookout for your settlement claim form packet, which will be pre-filled and mailed to you by us.

Please call or email us if you have any questions. If you have any friends or relatives who would like us to help with their corn settlement, you can let them know that we are still accepting new clients.

What is Syngenta Viptera and Duracade Seed?

Viptera is a genetically-modified corn seed designed to protect corn against common pests, including black cutworms, corn earworms, dingy cutworms and western bean cutworms. It was released in 2009, approved by the USDA in 2010, and first sold to American farmers in 2011. Duracade seeds were released in 2014 and also utilize the same genetic trait, MIR 162. Despite Syngenta’s claims that corn with the MIR 162 trait would be approved, China consistently banned all imports of such corn beginning in November 2013. Corn with the MIR 162 trait was eventually approved for import in December 2014.

Do I need to have planted Syngenta Viptera or Duracade Seed to file a lawsuit?

No, those who planted corn derived from other seeds may have been indirectly affected by China’s ban on Syngenta Viptera and Duracade seeds due to the fact that grains are comingled prior to sale, that cross-pollination may have occurred, and that China banned all shipments of US corn that tested positive for MIR 162. Also, the owners of ancillary agricultural businesses such as grain elevators, exporters and distributors were potentially impacted by Syngenta’s actions.

What is the status of the lawsuits against Syngenta?

Syngenta litigation has been filed in a number of state and federal courts throughout the United States. All of the federal lawsuits have been consolidated into a MDL in the District of Kansas. In 2015, Syngenta asked the federal judge to dismiss the case, but the judge denied that motion. We believe the time is right to file any remaining cases before the matter moves further along in the litigation process and/or statutes of limitation expire.

Do I have to file a lawsuit to recover damages?

The decision of whether or not to file a lawsuit is entirely up to you. However, filing a lawsuit is the only way to ensure that you have an opportunity to recover damages.

Will I have to travel or appear in court?

You most likely will not have to appear in court. In the event that you do, your travel expenses will be initially paid for by the law firm and then will be deducted from the final verdict or settlement.

Will I owe legal fees if the litigation is unsuccessful?

No, our attorneys operate on a contingent fee basis. This means that you will not owe any money for legal fees or expenses unless we are successful in obtaining compensation on your behalf. We assume all of the financial risk in pursuing this matter. In the event we secure a settlement or verdict, legal fees will equal 38% of the settlement amount followed by a reduction for any expenses incurred in preparing your case.

What are the qualifications of your firm?

RPWB is a national plaintiff law firm that represents clients in complex legal disputes throughout the United States. We are based in South Carolina and are experienced in representing farmers and other hard-working Americans. We are currently class counsel for thousands of tobacco farmers in the Southeast who are seeking to liquidate the assets of the Flue-Cured Tobacco Cooperative. We also have successfully represented rice farmers who were negatively impacted by genetically-modified rice seed sold by Bayer. An overview of our firm’s qualifications can be found here.

Who can answer my questions?

Please contact attorney Chris Tuck at 843-727-6500 or 888-293-6883 or by using the form on this page.

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