COLUMBUS -Many farmers recently received a mailing concerning a class action lawsuit regarding StarLink corn.
A federal court in Chicago approved a settlement between corn farmers and the two biotechnology companies that created and distributed StarLink corn.
The farmer-plaintiffs, representing the entire class of similarly situated farmers, said they incurred property damage and lost revenue due to StarLink contamination.
The companies, StarLink Logistics and Advanta USA, agreed to pay $110 million to settle the lawsuit according to Robert Moore and Peggy Hall, Ohio State agricultural economists.
Insecticide. StarLink corn contains Cry9C, an insecticidal protein. Aventis CropScience licensed the technology to a number of corn seed companies.
Cry9C-containing corn hybrids provided corn growers Bt-based insect protection, control of European corn borer, Southwestern corn borer and suppression of Black cutworm was possible with these corn hybrids.
The proteins kill insects by destroying the insect’s stomach cells and offered growers a new alternative to Cry1A for insect resistance management.
Claim benefits. StarLink’s corn seed registration was voluntarily withdrawn by Aventis CropScience in mid-October 2000.
Anyone who operated farms that produced non-StarLink corn since 1998 is eligible to claim benefits as a member of the class.
The settlement will award damages for two different injuries: property damage caused by StarLink contamination; and a reduction in the general price of corn (corn revenue loss).
A producer may be eligible for settlements for both property damage and corn revenue loss. Property damage might include contamination of fields, crops, equipment, and property.
However, the property damage portion of the settlement is capped at $10 million.
The claim form for property damage was not included in the mailing and must be requested from the claims administrator via the contact information below.
Revenue loss. The revenue loss settlement will be divided up according to the number of acres of non-StarLink corn harvested in 2000 by each class member who makes a claim for damages.
The general formula for a producer’s corn revenue loss settlement is provided below.
The settlement amount for each producer participating in the settlement will not be known until all claims are collected.
However, considering that attorney, litigation, and administrative fees will be deducted from the settlement fund and in 2000 over 72 million acres of corn were harvested in the U.S., the settlement may only be a few dollars per acre of corn harvested.
Take action. Farmers who received the claim settlement notice can take one of the following actions:
* Complete the claim form and return to the claims administrator. This will include the farmer in the class action and the farmer will receive his proportionate share of the settlement.
The claim form for property damage must be returned by July 31 and the claim form for corn revenue loss must be returned by May 31.
* Request exclusion from the lawsuit were due March 21.
A producer wishing to be excluded from the lawsuit will not be bound by the settlement.
Therefore, the excluded individual would be able to file his own lawsuit against StarLink Logistics and Advanta for any damage or harm due to StarLink corn.
* Do nothing. If a claim form is not submitted and exclusion from the class is not requested, the individual will still be bound by the terms of the settlement but will not receive any of the settlement money.
Producers who are unsure of what action to take should confer with an attorney for a full explanation of the lawsuit and its implications.
Get forms. To request claim forms, to be excluded from the class, or for information contact the claims administrator at 888-833-4317 or www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com.
Get the details
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