A $1.5 billion settlement was reached in a class-action lawsuit covering tens of thousands of farmers, grain-handling facilities and ethanol plants that sued Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta over its introduction of a genetically engineered corn seed.
Lawsuits in state and federal courts challenged Syngenta’s decision to introduce its modified Viptera and Duracade corn seed strains to the U.S. market for the 2011 growing season before having approval for import by China in 2014. The plaintiffs said Syngenta’s decision cut off access to the large Chinese corn market and caused price drops for several years.
The settlement, reached [March 12], must be approved by a federal judge in Kansas. It will create a fund to pay claims by farmers and others who contracted to price corn or corn byproducts after Sept. 15, 2013. If approved, money could be distributed to class members in the first half of 2019.
The settlement does not include the exporters Cargill and ADM that are also suing Syngenta.
The agribusiness giant contended that corn prices dropped because of market forces, not China’s rejection of Viptera. Most of the farmers suing Syngenta didn’t grow Viptera or Duracade, but China rejected millions of tons of their grain because elevators and shippers mix grain from several suppliers, making it impossible to find corn free of the trait.
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