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Cargill Sues Syngenta Over Corn Trait

Cargill has filed a lawsuit against Syngenta Seeds, Inc. seeking damages from Syngenta for commercializing its Agrisure Viptera (MIR 162) corn seed before the product obtained import approval from China. Cargill’s grain export facilities in Reserve and Westwego, Louisiana loaded the vessels that were destined for and rejected by China.

In court documents filed Friday, Cargill said that it has lost more than $90 million because Syngenta sold MIR 162 to U.S. farmers before gaining import approval from China, one of the world's biggest markets.

“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,” said Mark Stonacek, president of Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain North America. “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.”

Since mid-November 2013, China has rejected imports of U.S. corn due to the presence of Syngenta’s MIR 162 trait because of its lack of approval for import, virtually halting U.S. corn trade with China. 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. 

Syngenta’s Response
In response Syngenta issued a statement saying the lawsuit is without merit and strongly upholds the right of growers to have access to approved new technologies that can increase both their productivity and their profitability.
MIR162 was approved for cultivation in the U.S. in 2010. Syngenta commercialized the trait in full compliance with regulatory and legal requirements. Syngenta also obtained import approval from major corn importing countries. Syngenta believes it has been fully transparent in commercializing the trait over the last four years.

The company believes MIR 162 has demonstrated major benefits for growers, preventing significant yield and grain quality losses resulting from damage by a broad spectrum of lepidopteran pests.

MIR 162 Background

In the last two seasons, MIR162 was planted on about 3% of U.S. acres. It is also approved and planted in Brazil and Argentina.

Darci Vetter, USDA's chief ag negotiator says the agency is attacking the issue at all levels. "We are using our embassy in Beijing, urging China to immediately approve MIR 162, asking the government to follow the science on this issue to make a sound decision. We are asking China to streamline the regulatory process on trait approval. This issue is very important," negotiator Vetter says.

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