The European Commission has approved Syngenta’s Agrisure Duracade, a trait genetically engineered to control corn rootworm, for import as food or feed.

The approval means that virtually all major markets have approved Duracade for import, said Syngenta product lead Duane Martin. Duracade is approved for cultivation in the U.S. and Canada and for import in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam — and now in the European Union.

The European Food Safety Authority approved Duracade last year after Syngenta conducted an additional mouse toxicity test required by the EC. EFSA found Duracade “is as safe and nutritious as its conventional counterpart.”

Duracade hybrids are sold as stacked traits — Agrisure Duracade 5222 E-Z Refuge and Agrisure Duracade 5122 E-Z Refuge.

Rollout of the product in the U.S. and Canada has been carefully controlled. An earlier Syngenta product launch — Agrisure Viptera — went awry when China rejected millions of tons of grain during most of 2014 after finding traces of the genetically engineered corn trait in shipments. 

Subsequent lawsuits against Syngenta alleged China’s rejection of U.S. corn caused prices to plummet, costing U.S. growers billions. Syngenta disagreed with that argument, contending that corn prices were already falling, but ultimately settled the cases for $1.5 billion. Growers are still awaiting payments because of continuing court fights over how much attorneys should get.

Growers who planted Duracade this season had to sign a marketing agreement requiring that they only use Duracade-grown corn “as silage or grain to feed to livestock on my farm [or] as grain sold to a location designated by Syngenta.”

“We’re excited to be at the end of this eight-year journey,” Martin said. He added that the company would very soon be issuing “a very clear, concise message to our customers” about its plans for Duracade.

Fellow product lead Tim O’Brien said Syngenta wants growers to see Duracade as “another tool in the toolbox” and not use it year after year. “We want to help them build multiyear plans,” he said.

Corn rootworm costs more than $1 billion annually in reduced grain yield and control measures, Syngenta says. Martin estimated Duracade was planted on about a half million acres this year.

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