Their case was the first to go to trial. Thousands of other corn producers and traders also are seeking damages over China’s non-approval of the agrochemical giant’s corn seeds for importation.
Lawyers for the corn producers said in a statement that the verdict was “only the beginning.” They have claimed that damages for farmers nationally totaled $5.77 billion, according to court papers.
Syngenta said it will appeal the verdict, which included only compensatory damages and no punitive damages.
“We are disappointed with today’s verdict because it will only serve to deny American farmers access to future technologies even when they are fully approved in the U.S.,” Syngenta said in a statement.
In 2010, Syngenta began selling in the United States a strain of insect-resistant genetically modified corn called Agrisure Viptera. It started selling a second strain called Agrisure Duracade in 2013.
In their lawsuit, the Kansas corn farmers accused Syngenta of negligently commercializing the corn seeds before obtaining export approval in China, a major importer.
In 2013, Chinese officials detected Viptera in U.S. corn shipments. The country began rejecting shipments containing millions of metric tons of U.S. corn because they contained the strain, which was unapproved for import, the farmers said.
Nearly 90 percent of corn in the United States, the world’s top grains producer, is now genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as farmers embrace technology that helps kill weeds and fight pests.
The loss of the Chinese market caused U.S. corn prices to plummet, leading to over $5 billion in losses for corn producers, the farmers’ lawyers said. China did not approve Viptera until December 2014, while Duracade is still pending approval.
Syngenta denied wronging. It said at the time that no company had ever delayed launching a U.S. approved corn product in the United States just because China had yet to approve its import.
It also said the decline in sales to China was offset by exports to other countries.
The case is In Re: Syngenta AG MIR 162 Corn Litigation, U.S. District Court, District of Kansas, No. 14-md-02591.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Additional reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by Paul Simao; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)
US accused of seeking climate funding waiver at UN talks
The United States was accused Wednesday of using crunch UN talks to avoid compensating poorer nations hit by climate change, despite its decision to leave the process to limit global warming.
Delegates and observers at the COP25 negotiations in Madrid told AFP that Washington was pushing for a change in the rules of the UN climate convention that could let history's largest emitter largely off the hook when it comes to so-called "loss and damage" funding for developing nations.
Under the bedrock UN climate treaty, adopted in 1992, rich nations agreed to shoulder more responsibility for curbing global warming, and to help developing countries prepare for unavoidable future impacts -- the twin pillars of "mitigation" and "adaptation".
WATCH LIVE: Justice Dept inspector general testifies in Senate about FBI-Russia report
Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz will testify on Capitol Hill on his new report detailing the origins of the Russia probe.
The report criticizes FBI officials for making errors at the start of the investigation but concluded those errors were not intentional acts of political bias, and Attorney General William Barr immediately questioned Horowitz's finding that the probe of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign was justified.
Horowitz will testify Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A live stream video will be available before the hearing begins.
UK voters face a stark left-right choice that will (finally) decide Brexit — and might shape America’s future
Precisely as Donald Trump is being impeached by the U.S. Congress, British voters go to the polls on Thursday in a history-shaping national election, the U.K.’s third in less than five years. It has numerous echoes and resonances of the forthcoming U.S. presidential election, starting with the charismatic but abominable incumbent prime minister, Boris Johnson, who resembles Trump translated into Upper-Class Twit. But the differences are also striking, none more so than the fact that despite the enormous stakes in this election, in which Johnson’s Conservative Party and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party have vowed to take the nation in dramatically different directions, the entire campaign has been confined to six weeks.