Cargill sues Syngenta over corn trait

By Sarah Gonzalez

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2014 -- Cargill filed a lawsuit today against Syngenta Seeds seeking damages from Syngenta for commercializing its Agrisure Viptera (MIR 162) corn seed before the product obtained import approval from China. 

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Since mid-November 2013, China has rejected imports of U.S. corn due to the presence of Syngenta's MIR 162 trait. A study by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) estimated that U.S. exporters and farmers lost up to $2.9 billion because of the uncertain trade environment.  

“Unlike other seed companies, Syngenta has not practiced responsible stewardship by broadly commercializing a new product before receiving approval from a key export market like China,” Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain North America, said in a statement. “Syngenta also put the ability of U.S. agriculture to serve global markets at risk, costing both Cargill and the entire U.S. agricultural industry significant damages.”

The lawsuit was filed in a state court in Louisiana. Cargill's grain export facilities in Reserve and Westwego, Louisiana, loaded the vessels that were destined for and rejected by China. 

Stonacek said the lawsuit was filed only after talks with Syngenta proved unproductive.  “Marketing MIR 162 before receiving approval from China closed off that significant export market to U.S. farmers and exporters,” Stonacek said. “Cargill believes that Syngenta continues to not accept its role in shared responsibility by moving ahead this year with the commercialization of Duracade, which also is not approved in China and other key export markets.”

Agrisure Duracade is Syngenta's corn rootworm (CRW) control technology approved in the U.S. Syngenta has said it developed a controlled limited release of the trait in order to keep the technology in approved export channels. It partnered with Gavilon Grain LLC, which agreed to provide marketing opportunities to Duracade growers.

In a statement issued today, Syngenta said Cargill's lawsuit is without merit.

Syngenta “strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability,” the company said in the statement.

Agrisure Viptera prevents damage from lepidopteran pests.

The trait was approved for cultivation in the U.S. in 2010. Syngenta emphasized that it commercialized the trait in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements, and also obtained import approval from several major corn importing countries.

“Syngenta has been fully transparent in commercializing the trait over the last four years,” according to the statement.

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