Kansas Corn Growers Awarded $217.7 Million from Syngenta in Class Action Lawsuit
A Kansas class action lawsuit was heard in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas where a jury ordered Syngenta AG to pay $217.7 million to more than 7,000 Kansas farmers. The class action suit claimed that genetically-modified strains of corn produced by Syngenta had led to the loss of China as an import market for U.S. corn growers.
The plaintiffs argued that they suffered extreme loss when Syngenta sold the genetically-modified strains of corn seed to the China market before it had been approved by China. China is a major importer of corn from the U.S., but it started refusing shipments of corn from the U.S. after a genetic strain of Agrisure Viptera was discovered. After China backed out, corn growers across the U.S. were deeply affected and the price of corn suffered.
The jury sided with the Kansas corn producers and awarded them $217.7 million in compensatory damages to the class of more than 7,000 Kansas corn growers. Each person will receive $31,100.
Syngenta argued that when the trait was released, China was not considered a key market for U.S. corn. They also argued that corn prices were dropping before China rejected the shipments and that the U.S. corn market actually responded to a change in supply and demand.
Syngenta stated to be disappointed with the verdict, and that they felt that American farmers should be able to have access to the latest U.S.-approved technology without worry of how the foreign market will respond. They believe that American farmers should be able to decide what to use on their farms without worrying about relying on a foreign government.
This case was the first of eight class action lawsuits. The other lawsuits involve Illinois, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, Nebraska, and South Dakota. Several other state class action lawsuits revolving around the same matter are currently awaiting certification.