Kansas jury awards over $217m damages to farmers in the first of eight trials

A jury in Kansas state, US, has found Syngenta to be negligent in marketing genetically modified sweetcorn strains, and awarded over $217 million (£170 million) in compensation to more than 7000 growers in the state.

The trial is the first of eight state-based suits concerning Syngenta’s introduction of insect-resistance trait MIR162 – marketed as Viptera or Duracade – into the US market before it received import approval from China, which plays a key role in the US export market. China blocked imports of US corn between 2013 and 2014 after detecting the trait in imported corn, and US growers argue this has had a lasting effect on prices.

Syngenta will appeal the decision, arguing that corn prices were dropping significantly before the Chinese blockade, and that waiting for foreign approval before introducing products in countries where approval has been granted unnecessarily denies US farmers serving the domestic market access to the latest technology.