Syngenta expects no word on China GMO corn decision until summer

CHICAGO, April 28 Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:08pm BST

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CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) - Syngenta AG, the world's largest crop chemicals company, said on Monday it did not expect to learn before the summer whether China will approve a now-banned genetically modified strain of corn that importers have rejected by the boatload.

Syngenta said it believed that China's National Biosafety Committee, which is responsible for approving GMO imports, discussed the company's Agrisure Viptera corn strain at a meeting on April 10-11.

"We have not been informed of the outcome of the meeting and do not expect any information until this summer, based on past practice," Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said. "We are eager to receive the official report of the committee and, ultimately, sign-off by the Minister of Agriculture."

China in November began rejecting U.S. corn containing Viptera, known as MIR162, after previously accepting the grain. The variety, which has been cleared by the United States and other importers, has been awaiting approval by Beijing for four years.

Rejections of MIR162 corn have cost the U.S. agriculture industry up to $2.9 billion, according to an estimate from the National Grain and Feed Association. The NGFA and North America Export Grain Association unsuccessfully lobbied Syngenta to halt sales of corn seed containing MIR162 and another Syngenta variety called Agrisure Duracade until the strains are approved for import by major buyers. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Richard Chang)