The National Feed and Grain Association and the North American Export Grain Association released a joint statement in response to the lawsuit filed by Syngenta against Bunge North America for Bunge's announcement that it will not accept corn with the AgriSure Viptera trait. Bunge North America says that the fact that the trait is pending approval in China is the reason it is refusing to accept corn with the trait as they feel it endangers exports to the Chinese market.
Both Bunge North America Inc. and Syngenta are member companies of the NGFA, while Bunge North America is a member of NAEGA. NGFA and NAEGA member companies make independent business decisions with respect to commercialized biotech-enhanced events based upon each company's assessment of the risks and rewards associated with each new event.
"Within the U.S. grain and oilseed handling and marketing system, each company makes its own determination as to whether to accept various commodity crops – including those containing biotech-enhanced events – driven by customer preferences, regulatory regimes, contractual commitments and the respective markets they serve," the statement said. "Given the nature of the U.S. grain marketing system, these business decisions extend to the first point of sale from the producer. The NGFA in the late 1990s developed sample contract clauses that companies could consider using based upon their specific market needs and situations with respect to biotech-enhanced traits. These sample contract clauses were updated most recently in May 2007. NAEGA and NGFA member companies continue to make commercial decisions on appropriate responses to the commercial introduction of new biotech-enhanced events based upon the individual company’s facilities, economic considerations and market opportunities."
The groups went on to say that premature commercialization can reduce significantly U.S. agriculture’s contribution to global food security and economic growth and that putting the Chinese and other markets at risk with such aggressive commercialization of biotech-enhanced events is not in the best interest of U.S. agriculture or the U.S. economy.
Following the release of the joint statement by NFGA and NAEGA, Syngenta reiterated its position and the reason it decided to take legal action against Bunge North America.
"Our lawsuit is about Bunge changing the rules in the middle of the game on U.S. corn growers who acted in good faith when they chose to plant a legally approved product," said Chuck Lee, Head of Corn, North America, Syngenta. "Their arbitrary decision is exactly the problem our lawsuit seeks to resolve: inconsistent decisions that create unacceptable risks for U.S. corn growers."
The commercial launch of Viptera trait was done under policies established by the National Corn Growers Association and the Biotechnology Information Council. These guidelines are the only inclusive industry protocols that were developed collaboratively by technology providers and the grain handling industry.
Under the NCGA and BIO guidelines, China is not considered a major export market. As a result, technology providers have not delayed the commercial introduction of new biotechnology traits to obtain import approval in China. According to the USDA, exports to China account for less than 1% of U.S. grain production.
Syngenta continues to work with growers impacted by Bunge’s actions to find alternatives for delivering their grain. Growers, seed dealers and retailers with questions about this matter can send inquiries to Export.Info@syngenta.com or call 800-319-1360 between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. CT Monday through Saturday. Additional information is also available at AgrisureViptera.com/exportinfo.