Judge Grants Class Action in Syngenta Case
Qualified farmers can now join a class action lawsuit against Syngenta for marketing MIR 162 (Viptera) prior to full export approval. A federal Kansas City judge gave the class action the green light on Sept. 26 for nearly half a million farmers who did not plant Viptera or Syngenta’s Duracade corn products but who claim to have lost money on corn sales after the dispute began, plaintiff lawyers told Farm Journal.
“We lost the Chinese market due to Syngenta’s conduct, so producers today are getting less [money] than they would,” says Don Downing, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. In addition, the plaintiffs claim China’s rejection of U.S. corn with the then-unapproved Viptera trait in 2013 led to an interruption in trade with China and influenced commodity prices, causing economic damages to farmers. Plaintiff lawyers say damages could total as high as $5 billion to $7 billion by 2018.
Farmers who planted Viptera or Duracade might still have a case, Downing says, but will need to consult with their own lawyers since their arguments, as customers of Syngenta, differ from those of farmers who did not plant Viptera or Duracade.
For its part in the matter, Syngenta denies all wrongdoing.
“Syngenta respectfully disagrees with this ruling, particularly given the widely varying ways in which farmers grow and sell corn in different markets across the U.S.,” Syngenta said in a statement to AgWeb on Oct. 11. “The Court did not rule that plaintiffs’ claims actually have merit. Syngenta is considering its appellate options.”
Pinnacle Ag Ramps Up Seed Offerings
To build on its existing seed strategy, Pinnacle Agriculture Distribution launches Mission Seed Solutions, LLC, a corn and soybean seed company based in Loveland, Colo. The company also recently acquired eight independent regional seed companies.
Nearly one-third of Pinnacle’s business consists of seed sales. The company also owns four manufacturing facilities for rice, wheat and soybeans.
Software to Bring Together Farmers, Retailers
Agworld, which provides farm management software, is introducing a cloud-based platform called Collaborative Farming Solutions. The new software program integrates information from farmers and retailers.
Using this software, farmers and retailers can share data, production plans, purchase information, input prescriptions, logistics, projections, budgeting and invoices. Agworld says this data integration will help farmers have more insight into how he or she can better use their data and make better decisions for their operation.
Monsanto Reaches Agreements to Use Two Platforms to Enhance Crop Genetics
In an effort to create higher quality genetics, Monsanto is collaborating with Second Genome and licensing a product from Dow AgroSciences.
The agreement with Second Genome allows Monsanto to use the Microbiome Technology Platform to analyze microbial function through big data metagenomics, protein discovery, machine learning and predictive analytics. Second Genome will apply its bioinformatics platform to analyze the use and efficacy of proteins for agricultural use, specifically proteins for insect control. The financial details of the multiyear agreement were not disclosed.
Monsanto’s licensing agreement with Dow allows the company access to Exzact precision technology platform. The platform is said to create crop varieties and lines with improved traits faster through a toolkit that allows for genome modification in plants. The technology is based on enzymes called “zinc finger nucleases” that allow researchers to add, delete or edit plant DNA.