Swiss biotech giant Syngenta AG may have destroyed much of the corn export business that U.S. farmers count on. China has rejected huge shipments of U.S.-grown corn, largely because Syngenta released a GMO (genetically modified organism) version before it was approved. Consequently, $1 billion in class action suits are being brought in federal court by farmers in three states.
The MIR162 strain of GM corn comprises only about 3 percent of U.S. crops, but it cannot be contained due to cross-breeding. The National Grain and Feed Association estimates that the Chinese refusal of U.S. corn has reduced corn prices by 11 cents per bushel, and it has asked Syngenta to stop selling the GM corn seed varieties. Syngenta was formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals.