Syngenta produces two genetically modified corn seed varieties – Viptera and Duracade.
Syngenta spent over five years and hundreds of millions of dollars developing MIR162 (“Viptera” corn) – a genetically modified seed that was designed to protect corn against damage from more than a dozen insect species such as the corn borer and corn rootworm. According to the Syngenta corn lawsuit, Syngenta sold Viptera corn – and farmers grew it – before the product had been approved by the Chinese government for full market distribution. China rejected the product, as it did not meet their government’s standards.
China was a large and growing export market. It was the top corn destination in 2013-2014 and was predicted by the USDA to be our largest export market for corn by 2020. U.S. corn exports to China plunged 87% in the first nine months of 2014 compared with the year prior. Corn futures prices have dropped around 14% this year as expectations of another record U.S. crop grew.
The Syngenta Viptera Corn lawsuit alleges that Syngenta knew, or should have known, that its MIR162 seed would cripple the nation’s corn market because of the industry’s inability to sell in Chinese markets, one of our largest agricultural trade partners. The Syngenta lawsuit also alleges that rather than waiting for China to approve Viptera corn, Syngenta “pushed its product on farmers” to enhance its profit margins, which totaled $875 million in 2013. Syngenta did so without making it apparent that farmers and agricultural entities would be unable to participate in Chinese markets.
According to a case study from the National Grain and Feed Association, the estimated total loss to the industry from trade disruption over the Viptera corn was $1 billion to $2.9 billion.
In September 2016, Judge John W. Lungstrum, U.S. District Judge of the District of Kansas, certified a nationwide class-action status for the Syngenta lawsuit. An additional eight state class action lawsuits were also certified into multi-district litigation.
These lawsuits include any businesses that were affected by the dramatic shift in corn prices – the plaintiffs are suing Syngenta for their negligent actions that resulted in the negatively shifted corn pricing.
Who Can Participate in the Syngenta Lawsuit?
Any corn farmers, grain handling facilities, and ethanol plants nationwide who sold corn priced after September 15, 2013, who also meet the qualifications to participate outlined in the settlement – are eligible to receive compensation from the settlement. This includes U.S. farmers who previously opted out of Syngenta litigation.
To receive settlement compensation, all class members must submit a claim.
THL is currently speaking to any business that was affected by the trade disruption that hurt market corn prices as a result of Chinese rejection of U.S. corn shipments. The crippling of our nation’s corn export market has far-reaching implications and those that took actions that caused the crippling of this marketing should be held accountable.
Syngenta Lawsuit Settlement
A $1.5 billion settlement has been reached in the Kansas federal court class-action lawsuit against Syngenta. The settlement was announced in September 2017, but the details were not made public until the March 12, 2018 filing. The preliminary settlement was approved by Judge John W. Lungstrum, United States District Judge for the District of Kansas.
After Judge Lungstrum approved the settlement, the terms of settlement and claims process information were sent to class members. Class members were able to submit a claim form, opt-out of the settlement, or object to the terms of the agreement.
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