Syngenta Viptera Corn

Dangerous Drugs & Devices

What Is Syngenta Viptera Corn?

Syngenta Viptera corn is a strain of corn that has been genetically modified to resist common pests. The Viptera corn is toxic to some insects that eat and otherwise damage corn.

In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and most of the other countries that import corn from the United States, approved the Viptera strain corn. Syngenta, the company that sold the Viptera strain, assured farmers that China, a major source of corn exports from the United States, would approve the corn shortly. Based on this assurance, farmers were encouraged to plant the Viptera-strain corn.

However, that approval did not come, and China started refusing any corn that contained even a trace of the Viptera strain. Since the Syngenta Viptera corn was planted close to other types of corn and allowed to cross-pollinate, China refused to allow approximately 85% of all corn from the US to enter the country. The dramatic lack of demand caused more than a 60% drop in corn prices and farmers across the US experienced a massive financial loss.

The Viptera corn finally received approval from China in December 2014.

What Is The Legal Status?

Any corn farmer or exporter who expected to sell corn to China, or experienced economic loss in the 2013-14 grain marketing season as a result of planting Viptera corn, may be eligible to take part in the lawsuit. Even agriculture businesses that were impacted economically may be able to sue.

Around 20,000 farmers have already brought claims against Syngenta. Oxner + Permar filed the first of these claims in North Carolina. Since numerous jurisdictions are involved, the lawsuits have been consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Although the lawsuits are still filed individually, the MDL will resolve issues common to each case more efficiently. In addition, 20 states have filed class actions against Syngenta.

What Is The Legal Outlook?

Despite China’s eventual approval, lawsuits are moving forward—with more filed every day to recover the prior losses. Given the similarities between Syngenta’s actions with Viptera corn and a recent mass tort against Bayer for genetically modified rice, we believe a settlement to be highly likely. If you planted corn (whether or not it was Viptera) and lost money due to the dramatic decline in the price of corn, contact Oxner + Permar for a free consultation.