By Dow Jones Business News,
January 23, 2014, 04:37:00 PM EDT
By Tony C. Dreibus
U.S. grain industry groups are urging Syngenta AG to stop selling genetically engineered corn varieties that aren't
approved in China, a key importer of U.S. grain.
The National Grain and Feed Association and North American Export Grain Association sent a joint statement Thursday
requesting that Syngenta, a Swiss maker of agricultural products, halt sales of its biotechnology-enhanced Agrisure
Viptera and Agrisure Duracade corn varieties until the Chinese government approves them for import.
China last month rejected at least 545,000 metric tons of U.S. corn that contained the Viptera variety, better known
as MIR162, which has insect-resistant biotech traits. The Duracade varieties were only recently approved for planting in
China's rejection of the MIR162 strain has limited gains in corn futures prices and raised concerns that the Asian
nation's demand for U.S. corn may cool in coming months.
"We want [Syngenta] to stop [selling the unapproved varieties] until we can get Chinese authorizations in place," Gary
Martin, president of the Washington-based NAEGA, said in an interview.
Syngenta's Viptera corn, currently grown in the U.S., Argentina and Brazil, already has been in the grain markets for
three years, and halting its sale in the U.S. "would have no effect on grain in the system or Chinese acceptance of corn
imports," said Paul Minehart, a spokesman for the company. The Duracade corn is being sold in limited quantities in the
U.S. and Canada this year, according to Syngenta.
"The real issue is a lack of synchronized approvals by grain importing countries," Mr. Minehart said. "To source from
major corn producing countries, importing countries need to align their regulatory processes to ensure predictable
markets and undisturbed trade."
The NAEGA, which represents exporters, and the NGFA, which represents grain elevators, feed ingredient manufacturers
and grain processors, said in their joint statement that it isn't just current export sales at stake -- the U.S.
reputation for providing products that meet importers' standards is also on the line.
"NAEGA and NGFA are gravely concerned about the serious economic harm to exporters, grain handlers and, ultimately,
agricultural producers," the statement said. "Further, the same concerns now transcend to Syngenta's intended product
launch plans for Duracade, which risk repeating and extending the damage. Immediate action is required by Syngenta to
halt such damage."
Grain elevators, which buy corn from farmers and sell it to processors and exporters, amass supplies from several
growers, making segregation of varieties not yet approved in China nearly impossible, as well as expensive, Mr. Martin
said. The only way to ensure Viptera and Duracade varieties don't make their way into shipments is if Syngenta stops
selling them, he said.
"The grain delivery system in the U.S. relies on the ability to draw from many fields and many farmers," he said. "
Even the most sophisticated segregation system has a hard time meeting" China's zero-tolerance policy for unapproved
-Jacob Bunge contributed to this article.
Write to Tony C. Dreibus at email@example.com
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