Bunge sued over biotech corn ban

Syngenta AG (SYNN), the world’s largest maker of agricultural chemicals, sued a unit of Bunge Ltd. (BG) over claims it’s illegally refusing to accept corn produced from the company’s bioengineered seeds.

Bunge, which operates a network of grain elevators and receiving stations, posted a notice on its website and at several locations that it is “unable to accept” delivery of corn or soybeans produced by Syngenta’s Agrisure Viptera seeds and another product made by DuPont Co., according to the complaint. Bunge said in the notice that the seed products haven’t received international approval from major export destinations, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa.

The product complies with all U.S. regulatory requirements, Syngenta said today in a statement.

“When a product has been legally approved, growers should be able to use that technology without subsequently being subjected to arbitrary actions,” David Morgan, president of Syngenta Seeds Inc., said today in the statement.

Viptera, which received U.S. regulatory approval last year, is genetically modified to combat damaging insects such as corn earworm and fall armyworm. The technology has been approved for cultivation in Canada, Argentina and Brazil, and for import in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea and Taiwan, Syngenta said in its statement. Approval is pending in China and is expected early 2012, the company said.

Bunge spokeswoman Deb Seidel didn’t immediately return a phone call and e-mail seeking comment on the complaint.

The case is Syngenta Seeds Inc. v. Bunge North America Inc., U.S. District Court Northern District of Iowa Western Division (Sioux City)