Farmers totaling in the “hundreds of thousands” can proceed with a class action lawsuit against biotechnology company Syngenta, a Kansas judge ruled Monday.
U.S. District Court of Kansas Judge John Lungstrum certified a class of at least 440,000 farmers who have accused the Swiss company of selling genetically modified corn seed that led to China resisting imports of U.S. corn.
Syngenta markets two biotech corn seed products — Agrisure Viptera and Duracade — that grew corn designed to withstand certain crop pests. Attorneys representing the farmers claim they lost between $5 billion and $7 billion in current and future revenue when China decided to stop importing corn grown with Syngenta’s seed products in 2013. China at the time had not approved corn grown by the Syngenta seeds.
The plaintiffs in the case did not use Syngenta’s products, but say that Syngenta-grown corn was commingled throughout the U.S. corn supply, causing China to reject all U.S. corn. That caused corn prices to fall in the U.S., plaintiffs say.
Syngenta was not immediately available for comment.
Patrick Stueve, attorney with Kansas City law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson, is one of the attorneys representing the class of farmers.
Class action lawsuits consolidate similar legal claims brought by numerous plaintiffs so cases can be handled without repetitive legal procedures.