Genetically Modified Corn Seed $110,000,000 Settlement

Two biotech agribusiness companies settled multiple lawsuits filed by commercial corn farmers who claimed they lost business over fears of GMO corn reaching the food supply. Aventis Crop Science and Avanta USA paid $110 million to settle the lawsuits for its StarLink corn seed.

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In late 2000, the “StarLink” brand of genetically-modified corn, which had been licensed by the Federal government only for the growing of corn used for animal feed and industrial purposes (such as the growing of corn for manufacturing ethanol), was found to have entered the U.S. food chain.

The news swiftly led to Japan and other major overseas buyers of U.S. corn placing embargoes on American corn, and the resulting collapse of the export market for U.S. corn and a sharp decline in the market price of U.S. corn.

Seeger Weiss LLP was one of four court-appointed co-lead counsel for lawsuit against the developer and distributor of the corn seed and obtained a $110 million nationwide settlement for the farmers.

StarLink GMO Corn Lawsuit

StarLink is a genetically-modified corn which was developed by StarLink Logistics, subsidiary of Aventis CropScience and was licensed and sold by Garst Seed Company, subsidiary of Avanta USA. StarLink was approved in 1998 by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in animal feed but was not approved for human consumption due to fears that a protein contained in the seed could cause allergic reaction.

In 2000, it was found to have inappropriately entered the human food supply, prompting fears of medical issues. This led to a loss of sales for corn growers who were unable to sell their products to major overseas buyers when an embargo was placed on U.S. corn supplies by countries like Japan.

These fears were further stoked when the companies along with Kraft food were forced to settle class action lawsuits with consumers who claimed they had been exposed to a risk of allergic reaction. The allergy lawsuits were settled for $9 million in 2002.

In 2003, lawsuits filed by corn growers had been consolidated into the U.S. District Court in Chicago. Corn growers sought damages representing the loss in value of their corn crops due to the improper marketing, handling, and distribution of StarLink corn. In April 2003, following much discovery and the denial of the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ claims, U.S. District Judge James B. Moran approved a $110,000,000 nationwide settlement, one of the first of its kind in an action co-led by Seeger Weiss LLP.

Seeger Weiss LLP has been successful at helping both individual and commercial clients seek fair compensation and justice in a number of practice areas including commercial litigation.

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