Biotechnology giant Syngenta is facing hundreds of lawsuits from both farmers and grain exporters, who claim they suffered billions in financial losses when China rejected shipments of U.S. corn and distilled dried grains that contained Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera.

The suits are part of a broader debate over how to handle the rejection of GMO products in unapproved international markets. Who should pick up the tab if products are rejected? The debate is pitting even those who traditionally support biotechnology against Syngenta.

The back story: Syngenta’s corn, engineered to protect against damage from insects such as corn borers and rootworms, was approved for use in the U.S. in 2010, and also approved for import by Brazil and Argentina. China originally accepted imports, but the Syngenta-derived products were not officially approved for market. China began rejecting entire shipments of products in 2013.

Sara Wyant (@agripulse) reports in High Plains Journal:


Syngenta believes the lawsuits are without merit and “strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and crop yields,” said Chuck Lee, who heads Syngenta’s North American corn marketing, in a written response to Agri-Pulse. “The right to market a safe and effective grain that benefits farmers and consumers must be defended,” he said.

“Syngenta has done what a good company should do. We developed a superior product that helps farmers, we applied for and received government approvals from the U.S. and major export markets at the time and we submitted an import application to the Chinese government that was timely, accurate and complete,” Lee added.