Syngenta suit against Bunge over GM corn revived on appeal

Chicago | Reuters –– A federal appeals court has opened the door for Syngenta Seeds to revive a lawsuit it brought against Bunge North America in 2011 over the agribusiness company’s refusal of a type of genetically modified corn.

An opinion in the case came on Monday as Syngenta and its parent company, Swiss-based Syngenta AG, have become the target of lawsuits over the same variety of corn, Agrisure Viptera.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a district court to review whether Syngenta had standing to bring a claim of false advertising against Bunge in 2011 after Bunge began refusing to accept Viptera corn because it was not approved for imports by China.

Syngenta sued Bunge over the decision, and a district court in 2012 ruled in Bunge’s favor.

The appeals court sent Syngenta’s false-advertising claim back to the lower court for review, while affirming the lower court’s rulings in favor of Bunge on two other claims.

Viptera corn has become controversial because China last year began rejecting boatloads of U.S. corn containing the trait, known as MIR 162. Commodities trader Cargill and farmers have separately sued Syngenta, claiming they lost money from the trade disruptions.

Bunge expects to prevail on the false advertising claim in district court, spokeswoman Deb Seidel said, adding that Monday’s opinion was a clarification of a ruling the appeals court made in August.

Syngenta declined to comment.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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