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Friday, June 23, 2017

Lipman Law Firm P.C. along with Harding Law Offices are local counsel in a class action lawsuit against Switzerland-based Syngenta. The lawsuit accuses Syngenta of causing economic harm to corn growers after the company marketed two genetically modified strains of corn – Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade – both of which have been outlawed in China. China, a major importer of U.S. corn began refusing shipments of U.S. corn one year ago after a genetic trait found in Vipera – MIR 162, was detected in the shipments.

With the loss of the Chinese market, prices for U.S. corn have plummeted. Earlier this year, losses to corn growers and the industry due to the loss of the Chinese market were estimated to be from $1 billion to $2.9 billion. The corn growers’ financial losses continue to grow, the lawsuits allege.

This new multi-state lawsuit further alleges that the company was aware of the potential damages from its actions but sold the seeds with the MIR 162 anyway. The lawsuit claims that Syngenta told the USDA and the corn industry stakeholders, including farmers, when it sought permission to sell its new GMO corn that introduction of MIR 162 should not impact export markets and that it would take steps to prevent any problem. Syngenta was wrong and we believe they did not take the necessary steps. The formers and the industry as a whole have been damaged and this suit seeks to hold Syngenta accountable for that damage. While recent media reports suggest Chine may now have approved MIR 162, that final approval has not been confirmed. Regardless, we believe Syngenta should still be held accountable for the damage already done by their premature commercialization of MIR 162 and failure to channel it away from export markets that had not approved the trat as it promised.

The class action lawsuits currently filed are on behalf of U.S. corn farmers who did not grow Viptera or Duracade.

Don Downing is one of our lead attorneys. We have worked with Don on other class action matters in Iowa. Don was instrumental in a similar class action where he represented rice farmers in litigation against Bayer AG, which was found to be responsible for an unapproved strain o genetically modified rice making its way unto U.S. rice supplies. The litigation resulted in $750 million in settlement payments to rice producers. Over $270 million was paid to non-producer businesses that suffered losses due to the contamination, brining the total settlement to over $1 billion.

The lead firms have introduced a website specifically for those interested in learning more about these Viptera class action lawsuits against Syngenta and how corn farmers can become a part of them: www.syngentacornlitigation.com.

The cases filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) is Wilson Farm Inc. et al v. Syngenta AG et al, No. 4:14-cv-01908. The case filed in U.S. District Court for the State of Kansas (Kansas City, Ks.) is Five Star Farms, et al v. Syngenta AG et al, No. 2:14-cv-02571. The Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation has recently ordered all cases against Syngenta o be consolidated in coordinated proceedings before the Honorable John W. Lungstrum in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. This venue was one o the choices o venues supported by the firms.

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