The settlement deal for multidistrict litigation (MDL) covers all cases brought by corn growers, grain facilities and ethanol plants across the US, who bought insect-resistant GMO corn seeds from Syngenta during the class period. Only four plaintiffs have not opted in.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said the deal is believed to be “the largest agricultural litigation settlement in US history.” The firm also noted that even farmers who may have opted out of previous Syngenta lawsuits are eligible for the settlement, and said funds could be distributed as soon as the first half of 2019.
According to the settlement statement, “America’s corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages.” Farmers in Kansas, who cases were the first to win class certification representing some 7,000 plaintiffs, alleged Syngenta rushed its genetically modified pest-resistant Viptera seed to market in 2010, willfully ignoring the importance of Chinese regulatory approval.
The farmers further alleged that varieties of harvested corn were mixed together indiscriminately on their export journey. China discovered the rogue strain in November 2013 and immediately rejected American corn cargo, shutting down the Chinese market for US corn, which cost the domestic US industry more than $1 billion in lost revenue.
The case is In re: Syngenta AG MIR162 Corn Litigation, case number 2:14-md-02591, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.