Thousands of hardworking American farmers are out Millions of dollars after seed supplier, Syngenta AG, sold them genetically modified crops before they were approved for sale to China. Syngenta willingly sold two different genetically modified corn seeds, Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade, with the knowledge that farmers would not be able to export these seeds to one of their biggest markets. Not only were these seeds sold to farmers, the agricultural giant reassured farmers that the super power would approve the corn strains “within a matter of days.”
What Is GMO Corn?
Genetically modified crops (GMC’s, also widely known as GMO’s) are genetically modified plants used in agriculture. The most common application for GMC plants is to introduce a trait that does not naturally occur in the species. Other applications include resistance diseases, pests, frost, as a preservative, and resistance to herbicides. 1994 saw the introduction of the first genetically modified food when Calgene introduced an unsuccessful delayed-ripening tomato named the “Flavr Savr”. Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade are two types of genetically modified corn strains developed and marketed by Syngenta AG; Who made billions of dollars supplying farmers with corn that they knew they could not sell.
What Is Syngenta?
Syngenta AG is a multinational Swiss corporation who has made billions of dollars selling the world genetically modified crops. The agricultural giant was formed in the year 2000 with the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. Syngenta own and operates dozens of brands that span five sectors: selective herbicides, non-selective herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and seed care. Some of these brands include:
- Actara (Thiamethoxam)
- Agrisure (corn with Viptera trait)
- Alto (Cyproconazole)
- Amistar (azoxystrobin)
- Bicep II
- Cruiser (TMX, Thiamethoxam)
- Golden Harvest
- Northrup-King (NK)
Many have accused Syngenta of valuing money over moral business practices. The latest misstep, which cost American farmers Millions of dollars, seems to lend credence to these accusations. US courts have already awarded over $200 Million in settlements to farmers who were unable to unload their Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade crops. In addition to these settlements, hundreds of others have filed personal lawsuits against the seed manufacturer.
China’s Ban On USA Produced GMO Agriculture
Chinese laws prohibit the planting of any genetically modified food crops due to consumer opposition. However, The Chinese do allow certain GMO foods to be imported as animal feed, such as soybeans. Each year the number of crops approved for import has fallen, bottoming out at a single approval in 2016. This raises the question of how Syngenta could either directly, or indirectly, insinuate that their Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade corn strains would be approved by the country. With exports to China making up a high percentage of American farmer’s yearly wage, the purchase and production of these crops proved to be a costly burden for many to bear. There has, however, been a large scale effort to educate the Chinese populus about the safety and reliability of GMO food crops. Even with this effort, it still takes up to 6 years for a single product to get approved for Chinese import. In the two years since Syngenta’s devastating Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade campaign, GMO corn still stands as a denied crop in China.
Syngenta In The News
Reuters Online reported on the devastation caused by Syngenta’s decision to sell thousands of hardworking Americans seeds for crops they knew the farmers would not be able to sell. The story detailed the recent $217M verdict handed down by a federal jury in Kansas City, Kansas. Reuters quoted lawyers involved in the case by saying, “the verdict was “only the beginning.” They have claimed that damages for farmers nationally totaled $5.77 billion, according to court papers.” The article continued by detailing a 2013 decision by China to stop importing genetically modified crops from The USA. “The country began rejecting shipments containing millions of metric tons of U.S. corn because they contained the strain, which was unapproved for import, the farmers said… The loss of the Chinese market caused U.S. corn prices to plummet, leading to over $5 billion in losses for corn producers, the farmers’ lawyers said. China did not approve Viptera until December 2014, while Duracade is still pending approval.”