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Syngenta Begins Navigating a Gauntlet of Lawsuits

Over the next few months, Syngenta will need to weather numerous class action lawsuits alleging the company sold GMO corn seeds that were not approved in foreign markets. The lawsuits argue that because the seeds were legal in the U.S. but not yet approved in foreign markets, the price of U.S. corn dropped as the produce would be rejected in markets outside of the U.S.

To-date, Syngenta has already dealt with two of the lawsuits. A federal jury awarded nearly $218 million to Kansas farmers who sued Syngenta over its introduction of a GMO corn seed variety June 23. The class included about 7,300 growers from the state, and it represented a test case for the cases. “This is only the beginning…We look forward to pursuing justice for thousands more corn farmers in the months ahead,” said the attorneys representing the farmers, reported Seattle Times (June 23).

Syngenta reached a settlement with a class of Nebraska farmers July 10. The farmer successfully claimed Syngenta rushed its GMO seed to market before getting approval from China to export the grain there in 2013, which resulted in China stopping shipments after declaring the corn contaminated.

“Call it a tactical retreat,” Anthony Sabino, a law professor at St. John’s University in New York, said. “Most likely, Syngenta felt the case of a single farmer versus the big corporation was too risky to take to trial, and the dollars paid were within an acceptable range.”reported St. Louis Post-Dispatch (July 10).

The next trial will take place in Minnesota in August, where a group of farmers is seeking more than $600 million. Arkansas and Missouri farmers will get their date in court in January 2018, while Illinois and Nebraska farmers will go to court in April of that year, reported KTIC.com (July 10).