7,000 Kansas Farmers vs. Syngenta Over GMO Corn Dispute
Thousands of Kansas farmers claimed in district court in Kansas City on Monday that Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta rushed its genetically modified (GMO) corn seed to the U.S. market in 2010 before getting China's approval for imports, which rejected shipments of the corn over GMO contamination and caused turmoil in commodity markets.
As Bloomberg explains, the plaintiffs claim that "this move, coupled with U.S. corn farmers' inability to regain a foothold in China once other countries filled the void, almost wiped out the U.S. corn market for several years and continues to depress corn prices even today."
The plaintiffs are seeking $200 million in lost sales, plus punitive damages.
"Every bushel of corn grown in this country is worth less today than it would have been had Syngenta" waited for China to approve the product, plaintiffs lawyer Scott Powell told jurors.
According to court filings cited by the Associated Press, Syngenta knew Chinese approval was going to be a problem but aggressively marketed its MIR162 corn anyway.
Per the AP:
"Court papers show that Syngenta initially assured stakeholders that China would approve MIR162 in time for the 2011 crop. But the date kept slipping. Some exporters sent shipments containing the trait to China anyway. After two years of accepting them, China began rejecting them in late 2013."
Syngenta's MIR162 corn, aka Agrisure Viptera, is genetically engineered to resist pests such as earworms, cutworms, armyworms and corn borers. China did not approve the trait until 2014.
The Basel-based company denies wrongdoing over its product, contending that it was a 2013 corn glut, not China's rejection, that impacted U.S. corn prices.
"Syngenta acted responsibly when it began selling Viptera in 2010," company attorney Michael Brock said in his opening statement. "It was a product that farmers wanted and needed."
A slew of related trials are pending, with around 350,000 U.S. corn growers claiming up to $13 billion in losses, Bloomberg noted.
Notably, the legal conundrum is mounting as state-owned ChemChina is in the midst of buying Syngenta for $43 billion, meaning that if the farmers win the suit, the buck could pass back to China, which initially rejected the grain.
China has strict rules against GMO cultivation but permits the import of a few varieties. Most Chinese consumers are wary of the products but in in recent years, the Chinese government has been spending billions on research and promoting GMOs as a means to boost agricultural productivity. President Xi himself called for the domestic cultivation of GMO crops in 2014.
Monsanto, the maker of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, filed a motion June 16 in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California to reconsider the chemical's addition to California's Proposition 65 list of agents known to cause cancer.
The agrochemical giant made this move based on a June 14 Reuters investigation of Dr. Aaron Blair, a lead researcher on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) committee, that classified glyphosate as a "2A probable human carcinogen" in March 2015.
By Avery Friedman
Algae is often considered a nuisance, but for Sweden, the rapidly growing sea plant is now an asset.
As the Scandinavian country works to cut all of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, it's using algae to sop up the carbon emissions from cement.
By Itai Vardi
A recent intensification in protests against Williams Partners' planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Pennsylvania prompted a state senator to propose legislation aimed at limiting demonstrations.
Last month, Pennsylvania Sen. Scott Martin (R-Norman) announced his intention to introduce legislation that would pass the costs of law enforcement responding to protests onto the demonstrators. Martin also helped introduce a different bill that would criminalize protests at natural gas facilities.
The so-called "first and last mile" problem is one of the biggest hurdles with public transportation. How do you encourage more people to take Earth-friendlier commutes when their homes are miles away from the train or bus station?
One solution, as this Estonian electric scooter company proposes, is to simply take your commute with you—literally. Tallinn-based Stigo has developed a compact e-scooter that folds to the size of a rolling suitcase in about two seconds.
[Editor's note: I'm still in shock after hearing the news that Lucia Grenna passed away in her sleep last week. When we first met in April of 2014 at a Copenhagen hotel, I was immediately taken by here powerful presence. We spent the next couple days participating in a Sustainia climate change event where Lucia presented her audacious plans to connect people to the climate issue. I had the chance to partner with Lucia on several other projects throughout the years and work with her incredible Connect4Climate team. I was always in awe of her ability to "make the impossible possible." Her spirit will live on forever. — Stefanie Spear]
It is with a heavy heart that Connect4Climate announces the passing of its founder and leading light, Lucia Grenna. Lucia passed peacefully in her sleep on June 15, well before her time. We remember her for her leadership and extraordinary ability to motivate people to take on some of the greatest challenges of our time, not least climate change.
By Stacy Malkan
Neil deGrasse Tyson has inspired millions of people to care about science and imagine themselves as participants in the scientific process. What a hopeful sign it is to see young girls wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Forget princess, I want to be an astrophysicist."
As Trevor Noah noted during The Daily Show episode last night (starts at 2:25), the real reason Trump has these rallies is to "get back in front of his loyal crowds and feed of their energy." Noah believes that "Trump supporters are so on board with their dude he can say anything and they'll come along for the ride."