The Swiss agribusiness group Syngenta has agreed to pay more than $1.5 billion (CHF 1.4 billion) to American farmers in what is believed to be the largest agricultural settlement in US history. The farmers complained that the marketing of the company’s genetically modified corn seeds had excluded them from the Chinese market.
The settlement, involving more than 100,100 farmers, was reached on Monday, the Associated Press reported. The farmers said that Syngenta had caused five years of depressed corn prices by having rushed its GMO seed to market before receiving the import approval from China which was never granted. The farmers said Syngenta misled them on when China would approve the seed. As a result, corn prices plunged because China imported from elsewhere, the farmers noted.
The class-action lawsuit was led by four lawyers. “America’s corn farmers were hurt and this settlement will provide fair compensation for their damages”, they said in joint statement released on Tuesday.
Syngenta said that corn prices had dropped because of market forces and bad weather and was unrelated to China’s rejection of their new products. The company invested more than $100 million and 15 years into developing a new strain of corn seeds which protects against pests, according to Reuters.
Syngenta continued to defend its new products on Monday, noting that all GMO strains “were fully approved by all US regulatory authorities at the time of their launch”.