Syngenta Corn Traits Settlement Rumored at $1.5Bln – DTN

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    Syngenta on Tuesday announced a settlement with farmers who sued the company following the release of Agrisure Viptera and Agrisure Duracade MIR 162 corn traits.  

    Details of the settlement have not been released at this point, but other media outlets reported on Tuesday the settlement was worth about $1.5 billion.

    According to a news release from Syngenta, the settlement, which is subject to court approval, would create a settlement fund for the “submission of claims by eligible claimants” who contracted to price corn or corn byproducts after Sept. 15, 2013.

    “Information concerning the settlement fund, claims process and other details will become available after the parties execute and submit the proposed settlement agreement and other papers to the court later this year,” the company said in a news release.

    “The proposed settlement would allow both sides to avoid the uncertainty of ongoing litigation. The settlement does not constitute an admission by either side concerning the merits of the parties’ allegations and defenses.”

    The number of U.S. growers who will benefit from the settlement fund has yet to be determined, Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

    In June, a jury awarded farmers $217.7 million in compensatory damages in what was the first lawsuit filed against Syngenta over the shipment of Viptera corn to China. The trial was one of several on tap in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City.

    The lawsuit was filed by four Kansas farmers who represent more than 7,000 farmers in the state. It is the first of multiple lawsuits claiming Syngenta should have inspected and prevented harvested Viptera (MIR 162) corn from being shipped to China in 2013 and 2014.

    Plaintiffs in the case allege Syngenta sold corn with Agrisure Viptera and Duracade traits prior to the traits receiving import approvals in several countries, including China. China claims it found and rejected corn shipments containing the traits, which plaintiffs say led to lower corn prices.

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    The official lawsuits filed on behalf of corn producers include cases in Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.

    All farmers in the United States who priced corn for sale after Nov. 18, 2013, were approved as a major class in the lawsuit. The court had set trial dates through 2018.

    Following that verdict, Syngenta said in a statement that it commercialized Agrisure Viptera “in full compliance with U.S. regulatory and legal requirements, including USDA, EPA and FDA regulations.

    “Viptera had also received approval in the key import markets recommended at the time by the National Corn Growers Association and other industry associations.”

    Todd Neeley can be reached at todd.neeley@dtn.com

    Follow him on Twitter @toddneeleyDTN




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