The lawsuit, filed in a US District Court in Iowa, said Bunge’s North American unit has refused to accept delivery from farmers of corn or soybeans grown from Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera seeds, which have been genetically modified for insect resistance. Syngenta said that Bunge’s refusal to accept Agrisure Viptera corn on the basis that it has not been approved for sale in China is illegal, as the new corn has already been approved for sale in other importing countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea and Taiwan.
Bunge’s North American president and CEO Soren Schroder said in a statement that approval for Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera corn is not expected until early 2012.
“Until this approval occurs, we must protect the integrity of our export supply chain by not accepting Agrisure Viptera and other varieties that do not have major export market approval,” Schroder said. “Our obligation to our farmer customers is to provide access to the global marketplace and the price benefits of that access. Syngenta's decision to commercialize Agrisure Viptera should not foreclose our ability to sell to a major market – China.”
He added that the North American Export Grain Association’s policy is for technology providers to receive all major international approvals for a trait before seed sales.
“The grain export industry, which includes Bunge, notified Syngenta more than a year ago that China is considered a major export market,” Schroder said.
According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures, Chinese corn imports are at their highest level since 1994/95, at about 1.5m tonnes, and it predicts that figure will rise to about 2m tonnes next year.