$1.5 billion settlement reached in Syngenta GMO class action suit

by Susan Reidy
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KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. – A $1.5 billion settlement has been reached in the nationwide class action suit over Syngenta’s genetically modified corn seed. It is believed to be one of the largest agricultural settlements in U.S. history.

The settlement covers all U.S. corn producers, grain handling facilities and ethanol plants who sold corn priced after Sept. 15, 2013.

Certified in 2016 in Kansas federal court, the nationwide suit alleged Syngenta sold two genetically modified strains of corn to U.S. farmers before they were approved by China.

As a result, the suit alleges, China stopped importing U.S. corn in November 2013, and the price of corn plummeted.

"We are very pleased with this outcome. America's corn farmers and related businesses were hurt economically and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages.  It is an equitable result for all involved," said the four lead attorneys in the case.

A motion for preliminary approval has been filed but the settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge John W. Lungstrum, District of Kansas.

If preliminarily approved, the settlement terms and claims process information will be set forth in notices mailed to class members and published in various media outlets across the country, as well as in a settlement website.

Members of the class then will have a period of time to submit a claim form, opt out of the settlement, or object to the terms of the agreement.

Judge Lungstrum then will decide on whether to finally approve the $1.51 billion settlement.  If the settlement is ultimately approved, it is anticipated that funds could be distributed to class members in the first half of 2019.

Eight state class action lawsuits were also certified in the multi-district litigation. In June 2017, a Kansas jury returned a $217.7 million verdict in favor of the Kansas grown growers.