WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — U.S. trade organizations on Jan. 23 expressed concern over Syngenta’s current approach to its biotechnology corn after China rejected U.S. corn and distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS) because of the presence of Agrisure Viptera.

The Syngenta biotechnology-enhanced corn has not yet been approved by China and other U.S. export markets. The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) and North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) said they sent a letter to Syngenta asking the company to immediately halt commercialization in the U.S. of its Agrisure Viptera corn and Agrisure Duracade corn until such time as China and certain other U.S. export markets have granted required regulatory approvals/authorizations.

“The NGFA and NAEGA both strongly support agricultural biotechnology and other scientific and technological innovations that contribute to production efficiency and availability of a safe, abundant and high-quality food and feed supply for U.S. and world consumers,” the groups said. “However, NAEGA and NGFA are gravely concerned about the serious economic harm to exporters, grain handlers and, ultimately, agricultural producers — as well as the U.S.’ reputation to meet its customers’ needs — that has resulted from Syngenta’s current approach to stewardship of Viptera. Further, the same concerns now transcend to Syngenta’s intended product launch plans for Duracade, which risk repeating and extending the damage. Immediate action is required by Syngenta to halt such damage.

“There are numerous negative consequences incurred when the Chinese and other U.S. export markets are put at risk through commercialization of biotechnology-enhanced seeds before approvals for import into foreign markets are obtained. Such consequences may include reducing the value and demand for the U.S. farmers’ products, preventing foreign consumer access to much-needed supplies, shutting off or increasing the cost of U.S. producers’ access to some export markets for their crops, exposing exporting companies to financial losses because of cargo rejections and contract cancellations, and ultimately diminishing the United States’ reputation as a reliable, often-preferred supplier of grains, oilseeds and grain products in world markets. Commercialization prior to foreign regulatory approvals also has a negative impact on the overall U.S. corn and other grain value chains, and reduces significantly U.S. agriculture’s contribution to global food security and economic growth.

“Within the U.S. grain and oilseed handling and marketing system, each purchaser or handler makes its own determination as to whether to accept various commodity crops — including those produced from biotechnology-enhanced seeds. Such a decision likely is driven by customer preferences, infrastructure and operational limitations, regulatory regimes and contractual commitments, as well as meeting regulatory requirements in the respective markets they serve. Given the nature of the U.S. grain marketing system, these business decisions extend to the first point of sale or transfer from the producer.

“As a matter of policy, NGFA and NAEGA have communicated consistently, clearly and in good faith with biotechnology providers and seed companies about the importance of biotechnology providers actually obtaining regulatory approvals/authorizations for import in foreign markets before such traits are commercialized in the U.S. Individual grain handler, processor, service provider and exporter member companies of our associations represent further system- wide support and advocacy for this policy.

“U.S. farmers, as well as the commercial grain handling and export industry, depend heavily upon the exercise of due corporate responsibility by biotechnology providers with respect to the timing of product launch and commercialization. We therefore seek assurances from Syngenta that it will follow suit by publicly announcing that it will suspend immediately its commercialization of Viptera and Duracade products in the U.S. until such time as China and other U.S. export markets have granted required regulatory approvals and authorizations.

“Given these on-going concerns, NGFA and NAEGA urge U.S. farmers to evaluate these issues as they prepare for the 2014 planting season. Farmers should check with their local grain elevators and merchants to determine whether the grain buyer or handler has any limitations on accepting biotechnology traits that do not have certain export market approvals.”