USA – Syngenta has agreed to pay more than US$1.5 billion to American farmers following a lawsuit over its decision to commercialize a genetically modified (GMO) strain of corn before China approved importing it.
In what World Grain refers to be one of the largest agricultural settlements in U.S. history, the deal covers U.S. corn producers, grain handling facilities and ethanol plants nationwide that sold corn priced after Sept. 15, 2013.
“We are very pleased with this outcome. America’s corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages.
It is an equitable result for all involved,” said the four lead attorneys in the case.
However, the covering did not include Cargill and ADM who are said to have pressed separate charges against Syngenta.
The whole mess made China traders go for Ukraine after cancelling US corn cargoes on tighter GMO controls, leading to lower corn prices in the US.
But according to Syngenta, corn prices were affected by market forces and bad weather and was unrelated to China’s rejection of their new products.
The farmers said Syngenta had misled them on when China would approve the seed.
Later, Chinese Ministry of Agriculture approved some of the products including corn grain and processing co-products, including dried distiller’s grains (DDGs), for food and feed use.
The company invested more than US$100 million and 15 years into developing a new strain of corn seeds which protects against pests, according to Reuters.
The lawsuit which was certified in 2016 was based on the fact that Syngenta negligently commercialized the seeds before obtaining import approval from China, then a major buyer of U.S. corn.
In 2017, corn producers from Kansas were awarded US$217.7million in compensatory damages to the class of more than 7,000 Kansas corn growers.