Bold yellow signs from global trader Bunge Ltd are posted at U.S.
grain elevators barring 19 varieties of GMO corn and soybeans that
lack approval in important markets.
CHS Inc, the country's largest farm cooperative, wants companies to
keep seeds with new biotech traits off the market until they have
full approval from major foreign buyers, Gary Anderson, a senior
vice president for CHS, told Reuters.
"I think that would be the safest thing for the supply chain," he
said. CHS implemented a policy last year under which it will not
sell seeds or buy grain that contains traits lacking approvals
needed for export.
The U.S. farm sector is trying to avoid a repeat of the turmoil that
occurred in 2013 and 2014, when China turned away boatloads of U.S.
corn containing a Syngenta AG trait called Viptera that it had not
approved. Viptera corn was engineered to control insects.
Cargill Inc [CARG.UL] and Archer Daniels Midland Co each said the
rejections cost them millions of dollars, and both companies have
sued Syngenta for damages. ADM is refusing GMO crops that lack
global approval. Cargill did not respond to requests for comment.
The United States is the biggest producer of GMO crops and has long
been at the forefront of technology aiming to protect crops against
insects or allow them to resist herbicides.
That innovation is now seen as a risk to trade because it is hard to
segregate crops containing unapproved traits from the billions of
identical-looking bushels exported every year.
Soren Schroder, chief executive officer for Bunge, said the practice
of launching GMO seeds without full approval is "very risky."
"It's an uncomfortable position for the industry when there are
traits out there that haven't had major market approval," he said in
The latest crop being banned is Monsanto's Roundup Ready 2 Xtend
soybean, whose seeds are genetically engineered to resist the
herbicides glyphosate and dicamba. It is being sold for the first
time in the United States and Canada this year despite lacking
clearance from the European Union, an important export market for
North American soybeans.
Monsanto said it expects EU approval soon. It initially projected
farmers would plant the seed on 3 million acres in the United
States, roughly 4 percent of overall plantings, and 420,000 acres in
Plantings have already begun in North America, and Monsanto
spokeswoman Trish Jordan said that each passing week without EU
authorization lowers the forecast for acreage in Canada.
[to top of second column]
The company is allowing growers to switch to another variety and has
not yet shipped Xtend seeds to farmers who have ordered it in
Canada. Monsanto has not publicly lowered its U.S. forecast.
ADM, Bunge and CHS have said they will not accept Xtend soybeans
until the trait is fully approved by major markets. Bunge also
declined to accept Viptera corn before China cleared it in December
The company's list of banned traits on its yellow posters contains
products from Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, Stine Seeds,
DuPont Pioneer and Bayer, many of which are not commercially
available to farmers yet.
CHS has its own list of restricted traits that includes products
from Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer.
Seed companies, including Syngenta and Dow, are addressing industry
concerns by selling biotech products under programs that restrict
where growers can deliver their harvests to keep crops out of
Farmers also produce crops containing biotech traits from Monsanto
and DuPont Pioneer under contracts with end users that designate
approved locations where they can be delivered.
However, such approaches are not fool-proof methods of protecting
the supply chain, Anderson said.
Stine Seed and Bayer said they have policies against selling seed
traits that lack approvals in major export markets.
Bayer this week seized on concerns about Monsanto's launch of Xtend
soybeans to promote its own brand, LibertyLink.
"Soybeans, once considered such a simple crop to grow and market, is
becoming more complicated," Bayer said. It called the situation
faced by growers "downright confusing."
(Additional reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg; Editing by David
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.