Cargill eases restrictions on Syngenta biotech corn

Cargill Inc. has begun selling a variety of Syngenta corn seed that was previously banned by China.

The seed, called Agrisure Viptera, was genetically modified to protect corn against more than a dozen species of insects. The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved it in 2010, and farmers started planting it in 2011.

China turned back shipments that contained traces of Viptera corn in late 2013, prompting Cargill, farmers and others in the corn industry to sue Syngenta for hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. They claimed that Syngenta promoted and sold the corn too early — before China, a major importer, had approved it.

Syngenta has said the lawsuits are without merit.

China issued a safety certificate and approved imports of the biotech crop two months ago, so Cargill has now adjusted its policies. It will sell the seed, and will no longer require farmers to give Cargill advance notice of deliveries that may contain the Viptera corn.

A Cargill spokesman said that the firm eased its restrictions after Swiss-based Syngenta provided written confirmation that China had approved imports.

Cargill still refuses to accept another variety of genetically modified corn developed by Syngenta called Duracade, because its approval by China is still pending.