In a shocking twist, China has decided to suspend the issuance of permits for the importation of animal feed produced in America that is made with corn. China is not known for having exceptionally high standards, which is what makes this so disturbing.
Three trading executives discussed the turn of events with Bloomberg Business Week not too long ago. Dried distillers’ grains, also known as DDGS by industry professionals, can no longer be exported from America to China. The reason for this puzzling decision is because the Chinese government fears that MIR 162 corn, a GM strain that the Chinese have not approved, carries a high risk of contamination.
China was once the largest buyer of this American corn byproduct, which is produced in the process of making ethanol. More than 40 percent of the corn grown in the United Sates is used to make ethanol, and in 2013 China bought 34 percent of the United States’ DDGS exports.
Of course, this turn of events is not really all that surprising. China rejected several shipments of corn that proved to be contaminated by MIR 162. In one instance, the government rejected 1.1 million metric tons of Syngenta corn that was tainted. In December 2013, the Chinese government also turned away 758 tons of corn. It is therefore understandable that the Chinese government simply decided to suspend importation of corn-based animal feeds.
So China probably thinks we’re purposefully trying to contaminate their food supply with GMOs. Could you blame them? Our government has contaminated our own food supply with them!
On the bright side, AG Web reports that a class-action lawsuit has been filed against Syngenta, MIR 162’s creator and manufacturer, on behalf of American farmers. The corn was genetically engineered to be more resistant to insects, and was approved by the U.S. in 2010. The corn, also known as Agrisure Viptera, was marketed and promoted before it had received import approval from China. The ensuing turmoil over China’s rejection of the product en masse has left farmers shortchanged.
James Pizzirusso, a partner with the Hausfeld law firm in Washington, D.C., has said, “Syngenta must be held accountable for its blatant misrepresentations to U.S. corn farmers. By promoting and marketing a genetically-modified corn seed before the seed had received import approval from China, Syngenta placed its own profit margins over corn farmers’ livelihoods.” Pizzirusso also notes that China’s rejection of the MIR 162 corn has been a nightmare for affected farmers, causing losses equating to more than 1 billion dollars.
Syngenta has also been sued by both Cargill and Trans Coastal Supply Co. for their losses due to China’s rejection of products contaminated with MIR 162. Cargill has sued for a cool $90 million, while Trans Coastal Supply Co. blames Syngenta for $41 million in losses. Naturally, Syngenta believes that it is not at fault at all. In fact, they all but pat themselves on the back for providing farmers access to their “new technologies.”