Syngenta settles Minnesota corn-contamination suit in trial

Ag Chemical Firm Settles With Farmers In Corn Lawsuit

Terms were not disclosed.

More than 1 million tonnes of shipments of US corn containing traces of Syngenta's GMO variety corn were rejected by China before it finally approved the strain in December 2014. More details about the fund and the claims process will become available after both sides execute the settlement and submit it and other papers to the court later this year. The farmers allege Syngenta caused five years of depressed corn prices. The market didn't rebound because China found other sources for corn, the farmers said. The settlement also applies to another Syngenta corn seed called Agrisure Duracade, approved by USA regulators in 2013 and first planted in 2014.

The number of US growers who will benefit has yet to be determined, Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said.

Under the pending settlement, subject to court approval, Syngenta would establish a fund for those who claim they lost money on selling corn or corn byproducts after September 15, 2013.

The settlement does not include exporters such as Cargill and ADM that are also suing Syngenta, he said, nor does it include Canadian litigation.

Syngenta began selling Viptera to USA farmers for the 2011 growing season with US government approval.

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The settlement stems from a number of class action complaints filed by farmers in a number of states.

"In the end, Syngenta likely decided continuing to litigate this was probably not going to be productive for them and likely made this decision based on the Kansas ruling", Goeringer says.

Syngenta maintains general market forces pushed down the price of corn in 2013, but in June a Kansas jury sided with farmers awarding them almost $218 million. The two trials were meant to provide guidance to attorneys and the courts for how the complex web of litigation in state and federal courts in Minnesota, Kansas and IL could be resolved.

"It's a global settlement", said Lewis Remele, Minneapolis attorney and co-lead counsel for the Minnesota farmers.

"Finally when we were in the middle of this trial things started to warm up and we were able to reach a deal", he said. Two droughts in years leading up to the launch of the company's Viptera seed elevated prices, Syngenta lawyer Mike Brock told jurors at the Minnesota trial. The litigation also involved a newer variety called Duracade, which adds corn rootworm protection. Minnesota farmers in the lawsuit alleged that they lost $450 million in sales and lower corn prices.

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