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JPML Decides to Centralize Cases Involving Syngenta Corporation in Kansas (MDL 2591)

Law360 reports that the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has agreed to centralize 177 lawsuits filed against Syngenta Corporation in the District of Kansas (In re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, MDL 2591). The JPML said that it chose the District of Kansas because it is “readily accessible”, and assigned the MDL to Judge John W. Lungstrum, whom the panel said is “well-versed in the nuances of complex, multidistrict litigation.”

The lawsuits filed by corn farmers, grain exporters, brokers, resellers and others involved in the chain of distribution for corn allege that Syngenta Corporation “tainted” the United States corn supply with genetically modified seed (known as “MIR162”, which gives plants increased resistance to certain insects) prior to China giving import approval. Syngenta Corporation commercialized the genetic trait for the 2011 growing season under the brand name Viptera.

Law360 provides that Syngenta Corporation’s premature release of Viptera corn cost the corn market in the United States between approximately $1 billion and $3 billion due to the rejection and resulting seizures of United States containers and cargo ships transporting corn from the United States to China. Further, the United States Department of Agriculture estimates that China purchased approximately 5 million tons of corn from the United States in 2012 and 2013, making China the third-largest export market for U.S. corn. However, since November 2013, Chinese imports for corn in the United States have decreased dramatically by approximately 85 percent.


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