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CHICAGO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Swiss seed company Syngenta AG has sued top U.S. grain exporters Cargill Inc and Archer Daniels Midland Co over losses that U.S. farmers said they suffered from rejections of boatloads of genetically modified corn by China.
The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in U.S. district court in Kansas, comes after Cargill, ADM and hundreds of farmers sued Syngenta last year to recover damages linked to the rejections, which began in late 2013.
Syngenta’s decision to sell a type of GMO corn seed called MIR 162, also known as Viptera, before obtaining import approval from China in December led to the rejections, U.S. farmers and exporters have said.
Syngenta, the world’s top crop chemical company, said it was not responsible for losses incurred by traders or farmers. But if anyone is responsible, it is the exporters that shipped GMO corn to China without approval, Syngenta said in its new lawsuit.
ADM declined to comment on the lawsuit.
“Syngenta’s commercialization practices and conduct are responsible for the industry’s damages,” Cargill spokesman Mark Klein said on Friday.
Syngenta said in the lawsuit that Cargill and ADM failed to keep MIR 162 corn separated from approved strains, even though they should have known the strain was not approved by China.
“Cargill and ADM decided that it was in their economic interest to try to ship corn containing Viptera to China anyway” to profit from high corn prices, the lawsuit said.
In January 2013, Syngenta told Cargill that China’s approval for MIR 162 was not available yet, and Cargill thanked the seed maker for its “very clear” explanation, according to court documents.
Cargill “nonetheless doubled down on its gamble” by entering into contracts from February to July 2013 to ship more than 2 million metric tons of corn to China, the lawsuit said. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)