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Syngenta’s early shot falls short in biotech corn suit

Grain handling giant Bunge won’t have to accept a type of biotech corn at its elevators while the corn’s developer prepares to take the handler to court.

Bunge North America reported this week that a Monday ruling from a U.S. Federal District Court denies Syngenta Seeds’ request for a preliminary injunction in the suit it filed against Bunge in August.

The court’s ruling on Monday “is consistent with and validates Bunge’s decision to reject (Syngenta’s) Agrisure Viptera corn at all of our locations as a legitimate and reasonable business decision,” Bunge said in a statement Tuesday.

Bunge quoted the court’s ruling as saying the public interest would be better served in “fostering export markets for U.S. corn, in allowing business to make legitimate business decisions, and in allocating the risk of commercialization of a new transgenic corn trait upon the party that commercialized the trait.”

Bunge said it doesn’t expect the court’s final decision to vary from the preliminary decision and believes the court “will ultimately confirm its ruling that Syngenta’s case is without merit.”

Syngenta alleged in August that Bunge had singled out its insect-resistant Viptera corn, along with a type of soybean from DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred seed business. Bunge said its elevators couldn’t accept the crops because they don’t have necessary international approvals from major export destinations.

Bunge’s action is illegal, Syngenta alleged in its suit, noting Viptera corn already has approvals for export to “major” export destinations, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea and Taiwan.

But the corn does not yet have approval for China, which has been increasing its purchases of U.S. grain.

Syngenta has said it expects China to accept the Viptera trait package early next year.

Related stories:

Syngenta suing Bunge over rejection of biotech corn, Aug. 23, 2011

Syngenta to stack pest-control trait into corn, April 13, 2010

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