WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- United States corn farmers have filed several class action lawsuits today against Syngenta Corporation in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska federal courts. The lawsuits have been coordinated by Hausfeld LLP, a Washington D.C.-based law firm with substantial experience in environmental tort litigation, along with several other co-counsel, including Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A., in Chicago, Illinois, and other leading firms in the major corn-growing regions of the country.
The lawsuits allege that U.S. corn farmers have been damaged by Syngenta's premature release of genetically-engineered MIR 162 corn (also known as "Agrisure Viptera") seed into the U.S. market before the seed received import approval from China, a key export market.
As of November 2013, China has stopped importing U.S. corn when it detects traces of MIR162 in U.S. corn shipments. China has given no indication of when, or if, it will approve Syngenta's genetically engineered seed to allow these imports to continue. The lawsuits allege that Syngenta's decision to continue marketing MIR162 corn in the United States – despite the lack of import approval from China – has caused U.S. corn to be effectively excluded from China and domestic corn prices to be detrimentally impacted as a result. China previously served as the third-largest export market for U.S. corn.
The complaints further allege that Syngenta has attempted to downplay and misrepresent the significance of the export market for corn on U.S. corn prices, China's key role in the U.S. export market, and the timing of Chinese approval of MIR162 – with the intention of encouraging farmers to continue to buy and plant its MIR162 corn while knowing it would contaminate and impact the export market. The lawsuit further contends that Syngenta repeatedly suggested that China's approval of MIR162 would happen imminently, when, in fact, Syngenta officials knew that China was no closer to approving MIR162.
The complaints have been brought on behalf of a nationwide class of corn farmers who grew, harvested, and sold non-MIR162 corn on a commercial basis from November 2013 to the present, as well as on behalf of corn farmers in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska.
James Pizzirusso, a partner with Hausfeld in Washington, D.C., noted, "Syngenta must be held accountable for its blatant misrepresentations to U.S. corn farmers. By promoting and marketing a genetically-modified corn seed before the seed had received import approval from China, Syngenta placed its own profit margins over corn farmers' livelihoods. Syngenta's decision has been economically devastating to U.S. corn farmers, causing losses of over one billion dollars."
Hausfeld is representing the corn farmers, along with co-counsel Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A.; Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan, P.C.; Patterson & Prahl LLP; the Lundberg Law Firm, P.L.C.; and Horn Aylward & Bandy, LLC. Hausfeld has an active environmental tort litigation practice and its attorneys previously served as lead counsel representing corn farmers in a national class action against the manufacturer of genetically-modified StarLink corn, which resulted in a $110 million settlement. Hausfeld's attorneys also currently serve as co-lead counsel for a class of soft white wheat farmers in a lawsuit against Monsanto Company now pending in Kansas over Monsanto's release of unauthorized genetically-engineered wheat.
Hausfeld urges corn farmers to contact the firm to learn more about their legal rights. For additional inquiries, please contact James Pizzirusso at 202-540-7154.
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