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Ryan R. Bradley
Ryan R. Bradley
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Syngenta Corn Litigation Basics for Central Illinois Farmers


In 2010, Syngenta began promoting and marketing its genetically-modified corn-seed MIR162, known commercially as Agrisure Viptera, in the U.S. The corn seed was released to U.S. farmers before securing import approvals from China.  While China is certainly not the largest importer of US corn, but the constantly growing Empire had been progressively growing its reliance on US corn. This resulted in China closing their markets to any U.S.-grown corn due to traces of Syngenta Viptera grain shipments.

Since China has not taken receipt of US corn, producers across Central Illinois are at risk for ongoing and large scale financial losses. The fiscal impact has been devastating for U.S. corn farmers as the demand for U.S.-grown corn has virtually evaporated and the price of U.S. corn has plummeted on the international market.  Bear in mind that from July of 2014 to July of 2015 corn imports to China have risen 30 fold across the world according to the Wall Street Journal.  China began rejecting U.S. corn shipments because of traces of MIR162 starting in 2013 with the return of more than 500,000 tons of grain. According to the Los Angeles Times, China was expected to import a record 7-million tons of corn in the 2013-2014 season.  These numbers are not insignificant.

China’s refusal to take shipments of US corn has impacted the corn farmers across Central Illinois and beyond by contributing to a steep decrease in the market price.  It is important to understand that any Illinois corn farmer who has suffered economic losses because of the devaluation of the corn market due to Syngenta may be entitled to the financial recovery of their losses–whether or not they actually planted or experienced Viptera contamination.  This is a crucial distinction to understand since the actual market share that Syngenta Viptera enjoyed was relatively small nationwide.

The Relevant Background for Illinois Corn Farmers

Syngenta is a corporate entity that was created with the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals about 15 years ago. At the time, it is one of the largest agribusiness corporations in the world and focuses seed production and agrochemicals as well as agriculture biotechnology and genomic research.  You can read more on Syngenta at Bloomberg.

Syngenta sought to bring Viptera to market as quickly as possible in order to capitalize on the shortcomings of competing hybrids by Bayer.  Because of this rush to market, Syngenta “bet on the come” when it came to securing the proper import approvals from China.  Remember, that at the time China had risen from a non-existent corm market to the sixth biggest in the world in 2012. As corn was planted and harvested in 2011, 2012 and 2013, cross-pollination and cross contamination began to affect the U.S. corn crop.  We know from other litigation in Starlink, that crops like corn are not capable of total segregation.

For corn farmers in Central Illinois, a lawsuit may be a way for to recoup some of the damages that have occurred to their businesses and to their land on a financial and property level.

China began rejecting U.S. corn shipments because of traces of MIR162 starting in 2013 with the return of more than 500,000 tons of grain. According to the Los Angeles Times, China was expected to import a record 7-million tons of corn in the 2013-2014 season.

Syngenta-Viptera Hits Home in Illinois

Farmers in Central Illinois are among leading producers and exporters of corn, with millions of acres dedicated to growing corn and millions of tons of grain harvested each year.  This is in part due to the amazing land that we live off of everyday. When Syngenta marketed MIR162 without proper import approvals in place, it left farmers without a market for their corn and possibly impacted the entire corn industry in the U.S.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) have asked Syngenta to withdraw MIR162 from the market because of the impact on American farmers. Damage estimates are estimated between $1 billion and $2.9 billion because of the drop in worldwide corn prices.

How Koester & Bradley can Assist with your Illinois Syngenta Claim

If your farm grew and sold corn from November 2013 to the present, you could be entitled to significant damages.  These damages are more than just the fall in the market price of corn and can include increased storage costs, excess payments, and delayed implement purchases.  Again,  you did NOT need to plant Viptera in order to have a claim–and in fact, most Central Illinois farmers did not. Koester & Bradley is associated with and active in the litigation progressing in Illinois and is here to work with you face-to-face along the way.

Koester & Bradley has been assisting the Central Illinois community since 1895 and provides small town representation on national cases. Please contact us with any question or to set up an in-person meeting.

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