Syngenta Agrees to $1.4 billion Settlement

Syngenta Agrees to $1.4 billion Settlement

Syngenta AG has agreed to pay more than $1.4 billion to U.S. farmers who allege that Syngenta’s GM seed corn shut them out of the Chinese market. In 2013, Syngenta commercialized seed containing the Viptera trait before getting import approval from China.


In 2013, China stopped taking corn shipments from the U.S., claiming the corn was “contaminated.” The farmers say Syngenta misled them by indicating China would approve the new trait before harvested grain would enter the supply channel. China did eventually approved the trait, but not before Viptera grain had been harvested and shipped to China.

With China, a major customer for U.S. corn, detected the unapproved trait in shipments of corn from the United States, it blocked imports of U.S. corn and pulled out of the market. Farmers blame China’s rejection of U.S. corn exports for causing corn prices to decline sharply. Syngenta countered by saying there were other forces at play in the market to cause corn prices to fall, not just China’s rejection of U.S. imports.

The settlement with more than 100,000 farmers was announced Tuesday in a Minnesota District court. It resolves all farmers’ litigation in the U.S., but does not include Canadian lawsuits, according to Paul Minehart, a Syngenta spokesman.

The pact comes after months of negotiations between farmers’ lawyers and Syngenta’s attorneys.

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Kevin W. says:

My understanding was that Syngenta’s position was also that China was not a major corn export market, at least when this was getting started. To me this raised the question of how far does a seed maker’s responsibility go when a small market won’t accept a particular seed trait. Bunge said separating the corn wasn’t practical, and the judge agreed. But Syngenta said it should be okay to market its corn once the EPA has given the go ahead for the trait, that is, unless a major corn market won’t accept it.