Key Harrington Barnes, PC

Texas farmers involved in lawsuit against Syngenta

A woman from Texas has filed a lawsuit against the Swiss agricultural corporation Syngenta. She is one of more than 1,300 farmers who have filed suits claiming that genetically modified crops sold by the company polluted the market, caused serious issues with import to China and destroyed the profitability of their harvest on multiple occasions. At least 163 of the lawsuits have been filed in Texas. They have been now been consolidated into a federal multi-district litigation action to be heard in Kansas.

According to the allegations, Syngenta began to market a strain of corn that had been modified to resist pests in 2010. Although it applied for the Chinese government's approval for importation at the time, it was not received until the end of 2014. China has been a large market for American corn exports, and its refusal to allow this strain to be imported allegedly caused the price of corn to plummet, leading to the litigation.

The plaintiffs assert that, due to the Chinese government's refusal to allow contaminated wheat into their country, the price of corn fell by more than 50 percent and remained there for at least two consecutive years. The defendant has denied the claims, and it has stated its intention to combat the allegations in court.

The legal issues involved in this complex litigation are not based upon the products sold by Syngenta but rather on the financial damages suffered by the plaintiffs as a result of the company's failure to timely obtain Chinese import approvals. The plaintiffs have alleged that the resulting glut of the commodity contributed to a more than 50 percent decline in corn prices since 2012.

Source: San Antonio Business Journal, , Sergio Chapa, Jan. 20, 2015

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