June 30, 2017

Agribusiness Giant Ordered to Pay $218 Million in Damages to Corn Growers

Connor Choate

In the first trial in multidistrict litigation over corn farmers’ claims of negligence against Syngenta, a global agribusiness, a federal jury in Kansas sided with the farmers.

The farmers argued Syngenta, in an effort to push their genetically modified seed Viptera into the market quickly, deliberately neglected to first secure approval of the seed from China. This willful oversight, they argued, had significant consequences for corn producers. In 2013, a shipment of mixed varieties of corn arrived in China only to be rejected and returned once the Viptera strain, lacking Chinese approval, was discovered. China began refusing U.S. corn shipments across the board, affecting more than the farmers using the Viptera seeds.

The farmers alleged this rejection had widespread negative impacts for U.S. corn producers as a result of Syngenta’s neglect for foresight. The jury agreed. Siding in favor of the farmers, the jury awarded corn growers $218 million in damages.

Connor Choate

Intern with Austin Law Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina.