U.S. agribusiness giant Cargill Inc. said Thursday that it won't accept Syngenta AG's genetically modified Agrisure Viptera corn at its North American wet milling plants until the corn variety is approved by the European Union, Reuters reported.
Another major grain handler, St. Louis-based Bunge Ltd. (BG), has already barred Agrisure Viptera from its facilities, awaiting additional export market approval, particularly from China. A unit of Switzerland's Syngenta sued Bunge on Aug. 22 over the refusal.
"Cargill strongly values its right to accept or restrict products of agricultural biotechnology, dependent on the approval status in export markets and needs of our customers," Reuters cited a Cargill spokeswoman as saying. "Consistent with our long-standing wet milling position, Cargill cannot accept Viptera at these facilities until it has received regulatory approvals in the EU."
Thursday, Cargill spokesman Mark Klein told Dow Jones Newswires: "At this point, we have posted signs at our grain elevators stating that the Viptera trait is not approved in all major export markets and that our grain elevators cannot accept this product unless notified in writing prior to delivery, to allow Cargill the time and flexibility to try to find appropriate markets."
Viptera, which has been bioengineered to protect against insect damage, represents less than 2% of the U.S. corn crop, Syngenta said. It has been approved for shipment to several major corn export markets.
Syngenta said it has been in contact with U.S. ethanol plants to identify "suitable outlets" for Viptera corn.