Bunge ‘extremely pleased’ by court order

by Josh Sosland
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ST. LOUIS, -- Bunge North America, Inc. largely has prevailed in a lawsuit filed against the St. Louis-based business by Syngenta Seeds, Inc.

In the lawsuit, Syngenta alleged Bunge unjustly banned Agrisure Viptera, a Syngenta corn. Bunge declined to take delivery of the product on the grounds it had not yet received “necessary international approvals from major export destinations of U.S. corn.

In September 2011, as the corn harvest was getting underway, Mark W. Bennett, U.S. District Court judge, rejected a Syngenta motion that essentially would have required Bunge to accept the corn. At the time, Mr. Bennett called Bunge’s actions a reasonable business decision.

In a strongly worded ruling issued in late November, Mr. Bennett said he was not swayed by Syngenta’s more recent arguments. At issue were claims by Syngenta that Bunge’s refusal to take the corn represented a violation of the U.S. Warehouse Act.

“Syngenta's new argument on this issue is even more convoluted, relies on even more strained readings of amendments to the statutes at issue, lacks any support in case law or legislative history, involves insupportable inferential leaps concerning the purpose of amendments to the related regulations, and still runs afoul of the principle that regulations cannot create a private right of action that Congress did not create,” Mr. Bennett said.

While he summarily dismissed this allegation by Syngenta, Mr. Bennett said other claims by Syngenta regarding Iowa warehousing laws did not qualify for summary dismissal.

Bunge said the case is ongoing.

“The order dismisses Syngenta's primary claims that Bunge violated the Lanham Act and the U.S. Warehouse Act,” Bunge said. “The Court also dismissed the claim related to the U.S. Warehouse Act claim that Syngenta was a third party beneficiary of Bunge's Licensing Agreement for Grain and Rice Warehouse Operators with the U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency. While certain claims still remain in the case, Bunge is extremely pleased by the Court's order and is confident it will be successful on Syngenta's remaining claims.”

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