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Chad Finley
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Federal Judge Sends GMO Corn Lawsuits Back to State Court

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More than a thousand Syngenta GMO corn lawsuits have been remanded to state court by U.S. District Judge John Lungstrum in Kansas. The remands happened quickly after last month’s ruling that rejected Syngenta’s argument for keeping the cases in federal court.

According to Bloomberg, more than 1,800 plaintiffs are currently suing Syngenta, including corn farmers, grain elevator owners, exporters, and other members of the American corn industry. The plaintiffs allege that Syngenta made reckless and misleading statements about the status of Chinese approval of one of their products, a line of insect resistant GMO corn.

Chinese Rejection of U.S. Corn Throws Market into a Tailspin

Agrisure Viptera, the genetically modified corn that is at issue, was planted by a relatively small number of farmers, but due to corn storage and shipping methods, large shipments of corn bound for China were commingled and tainted with the forbidden MIR-162 trait. As a result, China rejected shipments of all American corn for over a year until lifting the ban in December 2014, resulting in a dramatic dip in corn prices.

According to court documents, Syngenta told its customers in 2010 that Chinese regulators were very close to granting approval to sell Agrisure Viptera in the Republic, leading American farmers to buy and plant the corn and not worry about China’s zero-tolerance policy for imports of GMO corn. But Chinese approval did not come until nearly five years later, after the global price of corn had collapsed and the industry was severely damaged.

Syngenta denies the merit of the claims made against the company and says the price of corn was falling for months prior to the Chinese ban, which China imposed not because of the discovery of Viptera in the corn shipments, but because of the country’s own corn oversupply issues.

Lawsuits against Syngenta continue to be filed in state courts all over the U.S.