I live in rural Indiana, so it’s not rare to see billboards promoting a seed company, but last week I saw a first: A billboard advertising a class action lawsuit against a seed company . . .
At first I thought this might be farmers suing seed companies for contaminating (pollinating) their non-GMO corn with nearby GMO corn. This happens, but I was surprised there would be enough farmers in that situation to warrant a billboard. After some digging, I found that the lawsuit wasn’t recruiting from this small niche of farmers, but instead every single corn farmer.
That’s right if you planted corn in 2013 or 2014, you could join the lawsuit.
Not Approved in China
Syngenta, the seed company targeted by the lawsuit, sold a genetically-modified corn seed known as Agrisure Viptera MIR162. Sounds yummy! China didn’t think so.
From the site (cornlawsuithelp.com) of the law office heading up the suit:
Syngenta is a global Swiss agribusiness that markets seeds and agrochemicals. In 2010, Syngenta released MIR162, a genetically engineered corn trait, to the US market. Viptera was designed to be resistant to insects such as the corn borer and corn rootworm. Syngenta brought the seed to market without it being approved for sale in China. At the same time it was marketing the seed, Syngenta told investors in April of 2012, “There isn’t outstanding approval for China, which we expect quite frankly to have within a matter of days.” It wouldn’t get approval from China until December of 2014.
In June of 2013 China found traces of Viptera in US corn shipments and subsequently shut down US corn imports. Starting with the first rejection of US corn due to the Syngenta seed, corn prices fell from near $7/bushel to a little under $3.30/bushel in October of 2014. The Syngenta corn lawsuit looks to recover money for farmers who lost value to their crop from falling corn prices caused by the Viptera seed.
From November 2013 to March of 2014, estimates show that China rejected billions of dollars of American corn. Let that sink in. China rejected food from us. China where 800 tons of 40-year-old frozen meat was being sold, found our corn to by unworthy.
This meant less corn left our borders, which led to a surplus in the United States. Corn prices fell dramatically. Hence, all farmers growing corn can join this lawsuit.
China did eventually approve Syngenta corn, but the damage had been done. China’s imports of U.S. corn have also declined as China has increased corn manufacturing in their own country.
Good for China. Grow more of your own corn. You’ve got the land and the farmers to do it. Shipping corn halfway around the world to a place that is capable of growing its own corn is nonsense. Maybe U.S. corn farmers will turn to food that we actually eat!