Syngenta files complaint against accusers in corn case including Cargill, ADM

By Aerin Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

'It is grain exporters and other grain traders who are responsible for handling the grain that they process and transport' claims Syngenta in lawsuit [pic (c) istock.com]
'It is grain exporters and other grain traders who are responsible for handling the grain that they process and transport' claims Syngenta in lawsuit [pic (c) istock.com]

Related tags: United states

Syngenta is suing Cargill, ADM and other agribusiness groups in the US over their claims alleging serious damages incurred from the sale of the Swiss company’s Viptera seed into the US prior to Chinese trait authorization.

The Basel-based group is also suing the Mississippi-based Express Grain Terminal and Minnesota-based Rail Transfer.

Syngenta, in the filing, said it had the approval to sell its genetically engineered (GE) corn — also known as MIR 162 — in the US [since 2010] and is not liable for the use others made of its product.

“If any duty exists to restrict US-approved GE traits solely because they have not been approved by a foreign government, then it is grain exporters and other grain traders who are responsible for handling the grain that they process and transport, and who make their own decisions over what they will and will not ship outside the US,”​ said Syngenta officials.

Case review

In November last year ADM sued the Swiss biotech firm, alleging it sold corn seed with traits not approved in all major export markets and didn’t take “reasonable stewardship practices” ​to stop the resulting crop from contaminating the rest of the US corn supply.

The move followed legal action against Basel-based Syngenta brought by US farmers in October 2014, as well as lawsuits against it filed by agribusiness giant, Cargill and livestock feed exporter, Trans Coastal Supply, in September that year, claiming losses in millions linked to China’s rejection of US crops containing the controversial strain.

Syngenta had sought approval for its Viptera seed from China in 2010 – it was only granted in late 2014.

In September this year, a US district judge partially denied Syngenta’s motion to dismiss the lawsuits from the agribusiness parties, with some of the complaints against it moving forward as a result.

Complaint details

Syngenta said it rejects the theory that it should have withheld sale of its GE corn seed Viptera from the US market, because it did not have approval for the crop to be imported into China.

“Syngenta believes the Viptera China lawsuits lack any merit because American farmers have the right to access safe, effective, US-approved technologies like Agrisure Viptera,” ​said company officials. “Once a genetically engineered (GE) trait is approved for sale by federal authorities in the United States, it is entirely lawful to sell that GE seed in the United States.”

The Swiss biotech firm also said it communicated with major US grain handlers and exporters, including third-party defendants, Cargill and ADM, about whether or not they intended to accept corn grown from Viptera seed at their facilities.

“Cargill and ADM (among others) informed Syngenta that they would accept corn grown from Viptera seeds, even though they knew that Viptera had not yet been approved for import by China,” ​said the Swiss company in the filing.

And the company claims Cargill and ADM shipped corn to China knowing that the tonnage contained Viptera corn and that had it had not been approved for import.

“Cargill and ADM each knew or should have known that a significant percentage of their US corn shipments to China would test positive for Viptera and thus would not meet Chinese import requirements,”​ said Syngenta in the filing.

When asked for comment on the compliant, officials with ADM said it is company policy not to comment on pending litigation.

A Cargill spokesperson told FeedNavigator that, “Syngenta’s commercialization practices and conduct are responsible for the industry’s damages.”

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