WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Syngenta Seeds Inc. of Golden Valley, Minn., has agreed to pay a $1.5 million penalty to EPA for selling and distributing seed corn that contained an unregistered genetically engineered pesticide called Bt 10.

While the federal government has concluded that there are no human health or environmental concerns with Bt 10 corn, it is still illegal to distribute any pesticide not registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.

"This action shows that when a company violates the law by distributing unapproved pesticides, EPA vigorously enforces the law," said Granta Y. Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Late in 2004, Syngenta disclosed to EPA that it may have distributed the seed corn to the United States, Europe, Japan and South America. Immediately following the disclosure, the USDA, the FDA and EPA began an investigation and evaluation that confirmed the distribution of unregistered seed corn on over 1,000 occasions.

A penalty was assessed by USDA, and the company destroyed all the affected seed under USDA supervision.

EPA filed yesterday's settlement with its Environmental Appeals Board. The EAB is the final EPA decision maker on permit, enforcement, and other administrative appeals under all major environmental statutes that the agency administers. If approved by the Board, Syngenta will pay a penalty of $1.5 million.

More information about the Syngenta consent agreement is online.

More information on the roles of USDA, EPA, and FDA in the federal regulation of genetically engineered plants is available at the United States Agencies Unified Biotechnology Web site: http://usbiotechreg.nbii.gov/">usbiotechreg.nbii.gov/.

SOURCE: EPA news release.