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CONTAMINATION & REGULATION: Syngenta loses court ruling against Bunge unit over modified corn lawsuit



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   SYNGENTA LOSES COURT RULING AGAINST BUNGE UNIT OVER MODIFIED CORN LAWSUIT

SOURCE:  Bloomberg, USA

AUTHOR:  Sophia Pearson

URL:     http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-27/syngenta-loses-court-ruling-against-bunge-unit-over-modified-corn-lawsuit.html

DATE:    27.09.2011

SUMMARY: "Syngenta AG, the world?s largest maker of agricultural chemicals, lost its bid to temporarily force a unit of Bunge Ltd. to accept its bioengineered corn until a lawsuit over the issue is resolved. [...] ?Bunge?s decision to reject Viptera corn at all of its locations was a legitimate and reasonable business decision,? Bennett said in a 69-page opinion. ?The injunction would impose prodigious costs on Bunge for a situation that Bunge did not create.?"

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SYNGENTA LOSES COURT RULING AGAINST BUNGE UNIT OVER MODIFIED CORN LAWSUIT

Syngenta AG, the world?s largest maker of agricultural chemicals, lost its bid to temporarily force a unit of Bunge Ltd. to accept its bioengineered corn until a lawsuit over the issue is resolved.

Syngenta sued Bunge last month, claiming its decision not to accept the corn is unlawful. U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett in Sioux City, Iowa, ruled yesterday that Syngenta has ?no likelihood of success on the merits of its claims? and denied the company?s request for a preliminary injunction.

?Bunge?s decision to reject Viptera corn at all of its locations was a legitimate and reasonable business decision,? Bennett said in a 69-page opinion. ?The injunction would impose prodigious costs on Bunge for a situation that Bunge did not create.?

At the heart of the dispute is corn grown from Syngenta?s Agrisure Viptera bioengineered seeds. Bunge, which operates a network of grain elevators and receiving stations, posted a notice on its website and at several locations that it?s ?unable to accept? delivery of corn or soybeans produced by the Syngenta product and another product made by DuPont Co.

Combats Insects

Syngenta has argued that Viptera complies with all U.S. regulatory requirements. Viptera, which received U.S. regulatory approval last year, is genetically modified to combat damaging insects such as corn earworm and fall armyworm.

?This lawsuit is only part of Syngenta?s determination to secure greater clarity for growers regarding industry marketing practices for newly approved technologies, enabling them to market their grain with confidence,? Paul Minehart, a spokesman for Syngenta, said in an e-mailed statement today. ?From this perspective, our determination is unchanged.?

The technology has been approved for cultivation in Canada, Argentina and Brazil, and for import in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan, Syngenta said in a statement last month.

?The court will not vary from the opinion denying the preliminary injunction and will ultimately confirm its ruling that Syngenta?s case is without merit,? Bunge said today in an e-mailed statement.

The case is Syngenta Seeds Inc. v. Bunge North America Inc., 11-04074, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, Western Division (Sioux City).



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   JUDGE SIDES WITH ELEVATOR AGAINST BIOTECH CROP

SOURCE:  Capital Press, USA

AUTHOR:  Mateusz Perkowski

URL:     http://www.capitalpress.com/newest/mp-biotech-dispute-update-093011

DATE:    27.09.2011

SUMMARY: "A major biotech seed developer won?t be able to force a global grain elevator company to accept its genetically engineered crop. A federal judge has refused to order the Bunge North America grain company to accept insect-resistant corn developed by Syngenta Seeds. A conflict erupted between the two companies this summer when Bunge announced it wouldn?t accept Syngenta?s ?Agrisure Viptera? corn at its elevators, since the variety hasn?t been approved for shipping to China."

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JUDGE SIDES WITH ELEVATOR AGAINST BIOTECH CROP

A major biotech seed developer won?t be able to force a global grain elevator company to accept its genetically engineered crop.

A federal judge has refused to order the Bunge North America grain company to accept insect-resistant corn developed by Syngenta Seeds.

A conflict erupted between the two companies this summer when Bunge announced it wouldn?t accept Syngenta?s ?Agrisure Viptera? corn at its elevators, since the variety hasn?t been approved for shipping to China.

Syngenta countered by filing a legal complaint against Bunge, alleging the firm had violated a 95-year-old warehousing law that prohibits elevators from unfairly discriminating among farmers who seek storage.

The company sought a preliminary injunction that would stop Bunge from exercising its policy of rejecting Agrisure Viptera corn from its facilities.

U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in Iowa has rejected Syngenta?s arguments, ruling that the company has wrongly interpreted the 1916 United States Warehouse Act.

Syngenta is unlikely to succeed on the merits of the case because it?s up to the USDA to enforce the anti-discrimination principles of the warehousing law -- private parties aren?t allowed to sue each other over those provisions, the Bennett said.

Even if the law allowed for such lawsuits, Syngenta couldn?t sue for violations of the anti-discrimination principles because it?s a seed developer, not a person who wants to store grains, the judge said.

If Bunge were forced to accept the Agrisure Viptera variety, the firm would spend millions of dollars segregating it from corn that?s headed to China, the judge found.

Such losses would exceed the harm suffered by the biotech company due to the distrust the episode has inspired in some farmers, especially since Syngenta took a risk in marketing the crop without China?s approval, Bennett said.

?While I acknowledge that Syngenta does face a substantial threat of reputational harm in the absence of a preliminary injunction, I am not convinced that the harm is of Bunge?s making,? he said.

In a statement, Bunge said the ruling validates the company?s rejection of Agrisure Viptera corn as a ?reasonable business decision.?

Syngenta released a statement saying it will continue to ?secure greater clarity for growers? who want to use new transgenic crops.

The dispute is unfortunate for farmers who have been caught between the two agribusiness giants, said Doug Jones, executive director of Growers for Biotechnology, a policy group.

Farmers who expected to deliver Agrisure Viptera corn to a nearby Bunge elevator will have to find another market for their crop, most likely at greater distance and expense, he said.

?There?s no way the farmer comes out ahead on this,? Jones said.

Over the long term, biotech developers may be more reluctant to quickly introduce new transgenic cultivars to the market and farmers may think twice about planting such varieties, he said.

That?s one point upon which the Center for Food Safety, a biotech critic group, can agree.

?Clearly, this will have a chilling effect on growers thinking about growing any variety not approved in export markets,? said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the group.

The dispute demonstrates that U.S. biotech and agribusiness groups will have to adapt to foreign attitudes toward transgenic crops, he said.

Other countries often aren?t sympathetic to genetic engineering, which can harm important U.S. export markets, he said.

?I think the behavior here is going to have to change,? Kimbrell said. ?International behavior is not going to change.?