Viptera corn being rejected by grain buyers
China has thrown a huge problem at U.S. corn exports and farmer customers who planted Agrisure Viptera corn this year from Syngenta’s family of brands. At least two grain companies, Bunge and Consolidated (CGB), that have the expectation of shipping corn to China have announced they will not accept delivery of Viptera corn with the MIR162 insecticidal trait because China has not approved import of the grain.
Of course, the lack of China’s export approval has caught farmers in the middle of regulatory chaos, and caused Syngenta seed customers to lose confidence in the company. Most of the limited number of seed customers aware of the problem last week were definitely upset.
The independent seed salesmen and ag retailers who sold Syngenta Viptera seed to their customers this spring are naturally upset, too, and those contacted said they were not forewarned of the grain companies’ planned rejection of the grain.
Independent seed salesmen reported finding out about Bunge and Consolidated’s plans to reject Viptera grain, and testing for the insecticidal trait upon delivery to grain terminals, from local grain elevators doing business with the grain buyers. Reports were that telephone calls to seed representatives of Syngenta brands were not being returned as of the end of last week.
Within the grain industry, the problem wasn’t completely unexpected as the topic had come up in previous industry meetings. Finally in July, Syngenta’s management met with National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) representatives to explain that the Chinese government’s regulatory review of the new biotech corn trait would most likely not occur until the end of the first quarter of 2012.
Syngenta received U.S. regulatory approval for selling Agrisure Viptera corn seed in April 2010 and proceeded to secure approvals for growing the corn in Canada, Argentina and Brazil. Import approval was received from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan. Confusion seemed to occur in whether import approval would be needed for China and the approval timeline after Syngenta submitted registration documents in March 2010. China reportedly requires a recognized second country’s regulatory approval before it will begin its approval process. China accepted Brazil’s approval in this case.
According to the NGFA, estimates are that approximately 250 million bushels of corn containing the Agrisure Viptera trait could be produced this year with a majority of the seed planted in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Nebraska. Some of the corn was planted in several other states, which are not the biggest corn production states, including Mid-South states. The insecticide trait has proven to be effective against a wide number of corn pests, outperforming competitive traits, which accounts for its quick adoption by growers who had seen company and third-party field plots.