Syngenta, ADM reach settlement in corn lawsuit

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Syngenta U.s. state Archer daniels midland

© iStock/stgutiez
© iStock/stgutiez
ADM and Syngenta have reached a settlement in a lawsuit dealing with sales of strains of genetically engineered corn.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) stated in financial filings that it had reached a settlement with the seed company regarding the lawsuit. The lawsuit related to sales of strains of genetically engineered (GE) feed corn, Agrisure viptera and Agrisure Duracade, in the US prior to their approval for import in China – a US export market.

A portion of the larger legal case was decided by a jury trial in June of 2017, and Syngenta reached a $1.5bn settlement with US farmers in September of 2017.  

In recent US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, ADM said that it had agreed to a settlement with Syngenta in December. The agreement arose from a lawsuit brought by ADM, along with others, against Syngenta in 2014.

“The company brought a state court action in Louisiana against Syngenta in 2014, alleging Syngenta was negligent in commercializing its products before the products were approved in China,” ​ADM said in its filing. “In December 2017, the Company and Syngenta reached a confidential settlement of this action.”

However, some elements of the case continue, said Paul Minehart, head of corporate communications in North America with Syngenta. The case with Cargill is set for trial in September of 2018.

“Syngenta is continuing to defend against the claims of other exporters, and continues to believe that American farmers should have access to the latest US-approved technologies to help them increase their productivity and crop yield,”​ Minehart told FeedNavigator.

Case overview

The corn-based lawsuits against Syngenta started in 2014 with initial filings from Cargill and ADM – the original lawsuit has expanded to include corn producers, sorghum or milo growers and non-producers.

Syngenta asked for the case to be dismissed. However, in September of 2015, it was allowed to moveforward​in the US District Court for the District of Kansas. Syngenta filed counterclaims​ and a lawsuit against members of the original lawsuit, arguing that the responsibility for isolating the GE corn rested with grain elevators, transporters and exporters – that case has since been dismissed​.

In June of 2017, a group of more than 7,000 corn producers involved with the expanded lawsuit were awarded​ $217.7m in compensatory damages by a jury.

ADM and Syngenta lawsuit details

ADM has been involved with several pending lawsuits in both state and federal courts connected to the sale of the corn varieties, the company said.

The company also has been a member of class actions filed on the topic, said ADM in the filing. “The company is a party in a number of purported class actions filed beginning in 2013 by farmers and other parties against Syngenta in federal and state courts, again alleging that Syngenta was negligent in commercializing its products,”​ it added in the financial documents.

ADM also was named as a defendant in several individual and purported class action lawsuits brought by farmers and other parties at the state and federal court level, the company said. These cases alleged the company has been negligent by not screening for genetically modified corn.

However, the court in Minnesota for the state multidistrict litigation and the federal court in the Southern District of Illinois both dismissed all claims against ADM. Although, it is possible that some of those measures may be appealed, the company said in the filing.

ADM remains a defendant in some of the state court actions brought by farmers and other parties, however, the company has asked that they be dismissed. “The company denies liability in all of the actions in which it has been named as a third-party defendant or defendant and is vigorously defending itself in these cases. All of these actions are in pretrial proceedings,”​ it said in the filing.

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