Syngenta suing Bunge over rejection of biotech corn

Syngenta Seeds, a unit of the world’s largest agrochemicals company Syngenta AG, has filed suit against major grain handler Bunge for refusing to accept a type of its biotech corn.

Syngenta claims Bunge’s North America operations are illegally refusing to handle a type of genetically modified corn that is designed to protect the crop against insect damage.

In the suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in the northern district of Iowa, Syngenta claims Bunge has notified customers that it won’t accept Syngenta’s new corn, Agrisure Viptera, which received U.S. regulatory approval last year.

Syngenta said Bunge has singled out its corn, along with a type of soybean from DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International, stating elevators cannot accept the grain because they don’t have necessary international approval from major export destinations.

Syngenta said the action is illegal and said it does have approvals for export to “major” export destinations, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea and Taiwan.

It does not have approval for China, however, and China has been buying an increasing amount of U.S. grain in recent months.

Approval of the trait is pending in China and is expected early 2012, Syngenta said. 

Syngenta said in its lawsuit that China is not a major export market for U.S. corn because U.S. corn imports represented less than three per cent of the total 2010-2011 U.S. corn exports.

As well, Syngenta said much of the corn Bunge receives in its network of grain elevators stays within the United States.

Bunge has licensed warehouses in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Tennessee.

Bunge officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Related stories:

Corn trait stacks get approval for insect control, Oct. 7, 2010

Syngenta to stack pest-control trait into corn, April 13, 2010

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