Domina visits Beatrice to talk on Syngenta, Water issues


Domina Law Group visited Beatrice to talk about Syngenta and water issues on Thursday.

Omaha-based lawyer Dave Domina spoke to a group of about 25 that morning at Aunt Mary’s Center.

He presented the facts and claims of the Syngenta case, along with offering his opinion on the issues.

Domina made it clear the discussion was not about whether Syngenta is a good or bad company, and not about whether GMOs are good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.

“It’s about statements concerning the acceptability of corn with one particular trait–an infused pesticide trai–and its impact on the export market to China specifically, that’s what it’s about,” he said.

Syngenta’s corn trait MIR162 makes plants resistant to certain pests. From 2011-14, China–the third largest export market for US corn producers in 2012-13, denied all US corn because of the trait.

This affects all corn producers because all corn is combined together after being delivered to elevators and shippers.

Domina detailed five claims against the company: injury to market, negligence, nuisance, false advert and strict liability.

Domina described the claims in detail.

In 2009 and again in 2010, a Syngenta representative told traders MIR162 hadn’t been approved yet, in China, but would be soon, even as soon as the next couple weeks, Domina explained, in reference to the negligence claim.

He said he wasn’t sure how strong of a claim this was.

Domina said the nuisance claim was a little better and described the strict liability claim as “very weak.”

He talked about the Lanham Act which deals with the false advertising claim, and said he was skeptical about it.

“Case strength is unknown at this point but I just described my own skepticism,” he said.

Domina said it was a “long shot lawsuit, in his opinion.”

Referring back to the negligence claim, Domina said the general basis rule of law is that it is not possible to misrepresent what the law is and be sued for it.

“You, yourself can’t rely on what others tell you, but the Syngenta representative was making a statement on law in China,” he said. “Almost no American corn producer could read if you could find it, it’s a really interesting question.”

Domina clarified that the loss claimed is the value of corn at the time bought, and it makes no difference how it was used.

In 2012-13, the US made up 32.1 percent of the world corn production, China made up 24.4 percent. The big difference is they use all of theirs, Domina said.

“China is a huge producer of corn and getting bigger all of the time,” he said.

Domina said the question would be, how much was the loss contributed to China.

“When China turned the corn away it wasn’t burned or destroyed, it was used someplace else,” he said. “China filled the demand they had with a different supply of ours. The argument will be there was a displacement but not a reduction in demand.”

The issue of displacement demand is going to be the work of really sophisticated economists, he said.

If wanting representation from Domina Law Group, they charge 30 percent of recovery, he said.

Domina also spoke about the issues with the Republican River Basin.

He suggested reaching out to Governor Pete Ricketts.

“He really needs to hear from the farm community powerfully right now,” Domina said. “About making water policy in this state that makes sense and is not driven by that Republic River Basin.

“But you guys are going to have to be heard. He doesn’t need to hear from lawyers. He’s got to hear from producers.”