Science in Society Archive

Syngenta Sued for $1 Billion Damages over China's Rejection of GM Corn as China Halts Its GM Rice and Corn Programmes

85 % US export market to China destroyed as domestic prices for corn dropped 11 cents per bushel Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

US corn prices plummeted as China rejected all shipments containing traces of Syngenta’s MIR162. Farmers from 5 major corn growing states have filed 3 class action lawsuits against Syngenta, claiming damages of more than $ 1 billion [1, 2].  

Syngenta released MIR162, trade name Agrisure Vipera, in 2009. It is engineered to make a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) protein vip3Aa20 toxic to lepidopteran insect pests (butterflies and moths) [3], and also has a gene pmi (phosphomannose isomerase) from E. coli to allow positive selection for the transgene. It was created with Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated plant transformation, a particularly hazardous vector system that risks further horizontal gene transfer (see [4] Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Special Report).  While MIR162 is approved for use in the US, China has not allowed its import into the country.

Syngenta is blamed for destroying the export of US corn to China, which led to depressed prices for domestic corn, according to Volnek Farms, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Omaha, Nebraska federal court. The two other suits were filed in Iowa and Illinois federal courts.

None of the farmers involved in the lawsuits planted MIR162 seed in their fields in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. But their harvested crop was contaminated with traces of the transgenic trait, and hence unsalable to the Chinese market.

Although Viptera has been planted on only about 3 % of US farm acreage, it is difficult to say for sure “that any shipments of US corn will not be contaminated with trace amounts of MIR162”, the Nebraska plaintiff stated.

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) had encouraged Syngenta to stop selling Viptera, according to the Iowa claim. The NGFA estimated that actions taken in China against US corn have caused prices to drop by 11 cents per bushel. The Iowa suit also claims that the release of Syngenta’s Viptera caused the US to China export market to drop by 85 %. Nebraska plaintiffs, too, accuse Syngenta of having crippled the 2013-14 corn export market to China. The NGFA reported in April 2014 that China had barred nearly 1.45 million tons of corn shipments since 2013.

In 2011, Syngenta requested in federal court that a grain elevator firm, Bunge North America, to remove its signs that said it would not accept Vipera corn. The request was denied.

Concern over the safety of GM food may have played a role in a recent decision by China’s officials to move away from GM production. In August, China’s Ministry of Agriculture announced it would not continue with GM rice and corn [5].

Article first published 13/10/14


  1. “Billion-dollar lawsuits claim GMO corn ‘destroyed’ US export to China”, RT Qestion More, 6 October 2014,
  2. Farmers Sue Syngenta. Chemical & Engineering News, 13 October 2014,
  3. Event Name: MIR162, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, accessed 13 October 2014,
  4. Ho MW and Sirinathsinghji E. Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Special Report, June 2013
  5. “End of the line: GMO production in China halted”, RT Question More, 21 August, 2014,

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There are 6 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

Rory Short Comment left 14th October 2014 01:01:45
I hope these farmers are joining in campaigns to ban GMOs altogether. Suing Syngenta over this particular issue is just attacking the symptom not the disease.

David Collier Comment left 15th October 2014 15:03:28
Symptomatic of greed; a need to control,(i.e. psychopathology) and Spiritual ignorance, never mind biological ignorance.

sussn Comment left 16th October 2014 13:01:04
For years the US government has told the public that NO gmo wheat has been planted. Yet it is being revealed one after another state is contaminated with GMO wheat. Celiac and digestive disorders to the populace have been defined by the medical profession as gluten intolerance not allergy to novel proteins. If one googles map images for autism (where apparent gene function has been disrupted), one might also find the highest rate of incidence is where crops are grown and consumed. The highest numbers of autism in the US reveal that the midwest where most corn and soy crops are grown could be relative to stopping the progression of autism cases.

Phil Kortis Comment left 21st October 2014 05:05:01
sussn's comment (Oct 16th) should be transmitted across the entire Earth,if not across the entire Universe, so that other living Worlds that have yet to intersect these technologies can benefit from the mistakes made here. (P.S. The Elements are continually grateful to Mae-Wan & Associates!)

Todd Millions Comment left 22nd October 2014 05:05:01
Has the Chinese goverment yet tested Alfafa product imports?Those were pollen drift contaminated while a court ban on testing was in place-the trials by americian corparations were merely moved to a 3rd world Sh--hole- Manitoba. As testing continued apace.With ag canaduh approval! What about sugar?Beets are contaminated and roundup residue levels are toxic despite moving the alowables up(along with the radiation levels).Very convienent to utah and alberta morons(did I spell that right?).Europe could help by not assisting turning the Ukraine into a backdoor GMO source.I do know what I'm asking ,seems the bribes have already being prepaid.But me and the pigs already know how toxic the BT corn actually is.The political and health elites shouldn't be as far behind as facts would indicate.

sussn Comment left 22nd October 2014 16:04:01
Todd, The US Coalition Provisional Authority authored by Jerry Bremmer before the invasion of Iraq mandated Iraq's agricultural sector to US multinational ag/chem companies. The same type of mandate will apply to Ukraine. The science has been at this site for decades, as well many in the science community are working to improve the quality of life by preserving human rights to clean food and water. Many thanks to Mae Wan she is a brilliant mentor to all.