On 11 December, a US district court judge approved the US$1.51bn settlement that agrochemical and seed firm Syngenta reached earlier this year over the sale of its Agrisure Viptera and Duracade corn seeds, concluding years of years of lawsuits between farmers and the company, AgWeb reports.

Syngenta introduced the two GM corn strains for the 2011 US growing season before China approved them. China then stopped importing US corn in November 2013, causing prices to plummet.

A US class action suit was filed in the Kansas federal court in 2016 against Syngenta and the Swiss firm preliminarily agreed to pay US$1.4-1.5bn to US farmers in September 2017. Syngenta also reached a settlement, which needed approval by the district judge of Kansas, earlier this year with all US corn producers, grain handling facilities and ethanol plants that had sold the two corn strains after 15 September 2013.

“We are delighted that the settlement has been approved,” co-leading claimants said in an issued statement. “Under the settlement agreement, it is possible that payments could begin as early as the second quarter 2019, but appeals could delay those payments.”

Plaintiffs said the rejected imports lowered commodity prices and cost farmers as much as US$3bn.

Syngenta – which merged with China’s state-owned chemical company ChemChina in 2017 – had said it did not need approval from China before releasing Viptera since it already had US approval.

The settlement is believed to be one of the largest in agriculture in US history.