U.S. traders reject GMO crops that lack global approval

Fri May 6, 2016 5:08pm EDT
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By Tom Polansek and Karl Plume

May 6 (Reuters) - Across the U.S. Farm Belt, top grain handlers have banned genetically modified crops that are not approved in all major overseas markets, shaking up a decades-old system that used the world's biggest exporting country as a launchpad for new seeds from companies like Monsanto Co.

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 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.   Continued...