June 26, 2017 — A federal jury in Kansas has awarded $218 million to over 7,000 corn farmers and exporters who lost money after Syngenta released a genetically-modified (GMO) corn seed before it was approved in China.
Corn prices are still down about 20% on average since November 2013, when China — America’s 3rd-largest buyer of corn at the time — rejected imports of all U.S. corn due to cross-contamination with Switzerland-based Syngenta’s GMO seed Viptera MIR162.
The rejection sparked a sudden collapse in the corn market, sending prices to record lows. Lawyers for farmers nationwide estimate $5.77 billion in total economic losses as a result of Syngenta’s actions.
According to lawyers for the farmers:
“The verdict is great news for corn farmers in Kansas and corn growers throughout the country who were seriously hurt by Syngenta’s actions. This is only the beginning. We look forward to pursuing justice for thousands more corn farmers in the months ahead.”
Lawyers for Syngenta have vowed to appeal, warning that similar verdicts may jeopardize American farmers’ access to technology. The U.S. is one of Syngenta’s biggest customers and over 90% of U.S. corn engineered to resist insects and weeds.
The trial involved a class action lawsuit on behalf of Kansas corn growers and exporters. Class actions have also been filed on behalf of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota, with numerous other state class actions awaiting certification.
The lawsuits are centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2591) in U.S. District Court for Kansas — In Re: Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litigation — Case No. 14-md-02591.
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