Archive for October 2014
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
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) , 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  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 .
- “Billion-dollar lawsuits claim GMO corn ‘destroyed’ US export to China”, RT Qestion More, 6 October 2014, http://rt.com/usa/193612-china-lawsuits-gmo-corn/
- Farmers Sue Syngenta. Chemical & Engineering News, 13 October 2014, http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/i41/Farmers-Sue-Syngenta.html
- Event Name: MIR162, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, accessed 13 October 2014, http://www.isaaa.org/gmapprovaldatabase/event/default.asp?EventID=130
- Ho MW and Sirinathsinghji E. Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Special Report, June 2013, http://www.thesparc.net/eprint_details/70/ban-gmos-now
- “End of the line: GMO production in China halted”, RT Question More, 21 August, 2014, http://rt.com/news/181860-gm-china-rice-stopped/
NYT 09/26/14 [Some call it Capitalism- looks more like Cannibalism…..]
October 1, 2014 OregonRightToKnow.org
A new analysis commissioned by Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, and conducted by the independent Portland-based economic research firm, ECONorthwest, found from a review of published research that the median cost to consumers of requiring labeling of genetically engineered food, also known as genetically modified (or GMO) food, is $2.30 per person annually. The report is available online now here.
“That’s less than a penny a day for each consumer—a tiny fraction of the cost estimates put out by industry and certainly a very small price to pay for consumers’ right to know if their food has been genetically engineered,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.
Consumers Union strongly supports Oregon’s GMO labeling ballot initiative, Measure 92. “Given the minimal cost to consumers, the increased herbicide use involved in growing almost all genetically engineered crops, as well as the failure of government to require human safety assessments before genetically engineered foods reach the marketplace, GMO labeling is well worth it,” Halloran said. “Companies change their labeling all the time and with GMO labeling costing so little, it is likely some producers won’t even bother to pass the minimal increase on to consumers.”
Consumers Union disputes claims made in ads opposing Measure 92 that labeling will force farmers and food producers to spend “millions” and increase food costs for consumers. The group also takes issue with the assumptions made by industry-funded studies that it says have overestimated the cost of similar GMO labeling proposals in California, Washington and New York—putting the cost at $100-$200 annually (or $400-$800 for a family of four).
“Industry cost estimates incorporate unrealistic assumptions about how GMO labeling requirements will drive food producers to switch to all organic ingredients, which would be much more expensive. However, there is no factual basis for this assumption and we believe producers will continue to sell GMO foods once they are labeled, and many consumers will continue to buy them, with no discernible price impact,” asserted Halloran. “Measure 92 simply requires foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients to be labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice.”
Genetically engineered foods are already required to be labeled in 64 foreign countries, including many where American food producers sell their wares. Labeling has not increased food prices in those countries, according to Consumers Union.
“Producers are required to label foods that are frozen, from concentrate, homogenized, or irradiated, as well as a food’s country of origin. Poll after poll has found that more than 90 percent of consumers want foods that are genetically engineered to be labeled,” said Halloran.
In addition to the Oregon initiative, a GMO labeling requirement is on the ballot in Colorado in November. Vermont has already passed legislation requiring GMO labeling, and legislatures in dozens of other states are considering similar labeling bills.
For the original article, Click Here.
For the study, Click Here.