U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered, or GE seeds widely since their commercial introduction in 1996. NORMALLY,the need to separate GE seeds from their non-GE cousins or even GE seeds with different traits NORMALLY is NOT an issue. But as some GE seeds unapproved for use in ALL countries are planted, some elevators are refusing to accept unapproved varieties.
In 1998, Aventis Crop Science released the GE corn variety, Starlink, for planting in the U.S. Starlink was only approved for use as a animal feed and was not approved for use as food. In 2000, when the unapproved GE grain was discovered in the conventional grain system, Archer Daniels Midland refused to accept any of the GE corn at its facilities. And even though the federally approved Starlink comprised less than 1 percent of the 9.5 billion bushels of corn harvested that year, the agri-business processing giant tested every load.
Now, for the first time in nearly a decade, another grain processor is refusing to take a federally approved GE variety. Recently, St. Louis-based Bunge (BUNG-ee) said it would not accept Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera (vip-TEAR-uh) because the seed was not approved for export to China.
In response, Minnesota-based Syngenta filed suit in U.S. District Court barring Bunge from posting signs and distributing materials saying corn with the Agrisure Viptera trait would not be accepted.
Bunge officials responded this week with the following statement:
"We are surprised and disappointed that Syngenta has taken an action which could put at risk a major export market for U.S. corn producers - China."
Spokespeople for the grain processing leader also said they informed Syngenta more than a year ago about Bunge’s concerns if the GE seeds were not approved by China -- the world's seventh largest importer of U.S. corn.
Syngenta says the seed has been approved for shipment to other international markets, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, Mexico and Korea. Nevertheless, Bunge says it will only accept Agrisure Viptera corn once the product is authorized in China and it plans to test every load until approval is received.
Syngenta expects its GE variety to be given the nod by Chinese scientists in 2012, and says it will help farmers find other places to market their corn if elevators refuse to accept it.