Many farmers who believe they lost income as a result of Syngenta’s MIR 162 (Viptera) can officially join a class action lawsuit against the company. On Monday, Sept. 26, a federal judge in Kansas ruled a proposed class action lawsuit against Syngenta in the Viptera dispute may proceed for a specific group of farmers—those who did not plant Viptera or Syngenta’s Duracade, but who claim to have lost money on their own corn sales after the dispute began.
The ruling gives the green light to nearly half a million U.S. corn farmers to join the claim, plaintiffs’ lawyers told AgWeb.
“We lost the Chinese market due to Syngenta’s conduct, so producers today are getting less [money] than they would,” says Don Downing, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs claim China's rejection of U.S. corn with the then-unapproved Viptera trait in 2013 led to an interruption in trade with China and affected commodity prices, causing economic damages to farmers and others affected by the markets. Plaintiff lawyers say damages could be as high as $5 to $7 billion by 2018.
Farmers who planted Viptera or Duracade might still have a case, Downing says, but need to consult with their own lawyers, since their arguments, as customers of Syngenta, differ from those of farmers who did not plant Viptera or Duracade. For more information from the plaintiffs’ side, visit Syngenta Corn Litigation. For more information from Syngenta, visit Viptera China Facts.
For its part, Syngenta denies all wrongdoing.
“Syngenta respectfully disagrees with this ruling, particularly given the widely varying ways in which farmers grow and sell corn in different markets across the U.S.,” Syngenta said in a statement to AgWeb Tuesday. “The Court did not rule that plaintiffs’ claims actually have merit. Syngenta is considering its appellate options.”