Punitive damages allowed in farmer lawsuit against Syngenta

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota judge will let some farmers seek punitive damages against the Syngenta seed company for selling genetically modified corn seeds before China approved imports of crops grown from them.

In an order unsealed Tuesday, Hennepin County District Judge Thomas Sipkins wrote that there's evidence Syngenta knew the risks of commercializing Viptera and Duracade corn containing a trait that China had not approved for imports, and intentionally disregarded the high probability of losing the Chinese market for U.S. corn farmers.

Sipkins ruled in a test case involving six of around 60,000 plaintiffs whose cases have been consolidated in Minnesota. It's scheduled for trial in April. It's separate from similar proceedings against Syngenta in Kansas and Illinois.

Syngenta says it sold a legal product and was not reckless.

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