Syngenta AG reached a confidential settlement with a Nebraska farmer who claimed the company mishandled marketing of its genetically modified seed, causing U.S. corn prices to plummet. With the settlement, Syngenta averts a trial that was scheduled to start July 10. Terms were not disclosed, according to Bloomberg.
Almost two weeks ago, Syngenta lost a $218 million jury verdict for a class of Kansas farmers who brought similar claims against the Swiss agrochemical company, which has been acquired by China National Chemical Corp. The Basel-based company completed its $43 billion takeover by ChemChina in June.
Syngenta faces its next class action in a Minnesota court in August, where farmers are seeking more than $600 million. The farmers claim Syngenta rushed its GMO seed to market before getting approval from China to export the grain there. In 2013, China stopped shipments after calling the corn contaminated by the GMO seed, setting off a five-year depression in prices, the farmers claim. They also allege Syngenta misled them on when the Chinese would approve the seed.
Syngenta disputes the damages, or that it did anything wrong. The company did not sell the seed until approved by the U.S. and did not need Chinese approval, Syngenta lawyers have argued.
The federal judge overseeing multiple class actions in Kansas set several trial dates Thursday for additional class actions to be tried in that court. The claims of Arkansas and Missouri farmers will go forward in January, while Illinois and Nebraska go to trial in April.