Syngenta agrees to pay $1.8 billion to end GMO class actions

Posted on: March 21st, 2018 by Steve Larson

Lawyers for the parties announced that they have agreed to a $1.51 billion settlement in the nationwide class action against Syngenta over its genetically modified corn seed. Attorneys for classes of farmers in all but four of the sprawling multidistrict litigation’s cases asked a Kansas federal judge for preliminary approval. The deal reportedly covers all corn growers, grain facilities and ethanol plants across the country that purchased insect-resistant GMO corn seeds from Syngenta during the class period.

The first trial in the MDL involving a class that was certified in September 2016 tested the negligence claims of four Kansas farmers representing the 7,000 others who believe that Syngenta rushed its genetically modified pest-resistant Viptera seed to market in 2010, willfully ignoring the importance of Chinese regulatory approval. The Kansas farmers alleged that varieties of harvested corn were mixed together indiscriminately on their export journey. China discovered the rogue strain in November 2013 and immediately rejected American corn cargo, shutting down the Chinese market for U.S. corn and costing the domestic U.S. industry more than $1 billion, they alleged.

The jury sided with the farmers after half a day of deliberations, finding Syngenta negligent and awarding the class of corn producers $217.7 million in compensatory damages. Syngenta said it planned to appeal.

In July, the seven remaining separate state class actions in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota, were grouped into four trials. Counsel for Syngenta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The case is In re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, case number 2:14-md-02591, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.