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DAVID KRUSE

By Staff | Apr 8, 2016

Syngenta is a Swiss-owned company. Some U.S. farmers didn’t know that. It is a seed biotech company headquartered in a domicile where they reject most seed biotechnology and put up trade barriers to utilizing genetic science in agriculture.

The EU has gone to great lengths to limit market access and damage prospects for seed biotech companies in Europe and other regions. So, while Syngenta is based in Europe, it can’t market many of its products there so has to come to the U.S. to gain access to the market here.

During that process it introduced genetics into U.S. corn production, MIR 162, that were not cleared by regulators in China. This gave China full reason to reject all U.S. corn imports and disrupted DDG imports causing direct financial damage to commercial companies handling U.S. corn/DDG exports to China.

It also injured U.S. corn and ethanol producers as a result of the negative impact to those markets that resulted from the disruption in Chinese business.

Syngenta, the Swiss company, taking advantage of U.S. market access because of commercial barriers to their own, takes no responsibility for the losses and disruption that the premature release of their products into U.S. market channels that their products caused that I can note. Boiling that down, they came here to take advantage of us and a myriad of legal actions are now underway.

From a personal standpoint, I don’t need to do business with these people. They have nothing that I have to have in my farm operation. I don’t do business with someone who has injured me. They have to have incentive to settle, and a loss of market access from a disgruntled customer base would be that incentive.

ChemChina, a state enterprise, has an agreement to purchase Syngenta for $43 billion pending. So Syngenta introduces seed traits that are not approved in China damaging U.S. interests and then Syngenta wishes to sell to a Chinese state enterprise leaving legal issues over those resulting damages here high and dry as new owners who were complicit in those damages, take over.

Yeah, right. Baloney. If Washington approves that sale then they are as dumb as Donald Trump says that they are.

I think that I know enough about how these deals work that Syngenta will have defined the potential liability from lawsuits resulting from MIR 162 to ChemChina as part of the due diligence process.

The liability could have been handled internally in their agreements in a number of ways, but it would have been recognized. Syngenta needs to settle its outstanding liability with U.S. farmers before any consideration to accepting ChemChina as the new owner is given.

First off, China has been known to steal proprietary intellectual property, like the sun comes up each day. It’s finding that intellectual espionage can be an inefficient form of research and development and that by buying companies such as Smithfield Foods and Syngenta it acquires enormous intellectual property that they can employ elsewhere throughout their supply chains.

China is developing new hog/pork production supply chains from the technology it brought with Smithfield’s Foods. Something similar will occur from purchasing Syngenta.

Iowa senators Grassley and Ernst are trying to put the brakes on the ChemChina Syngenta purchase and we thank them for that.

Grassley said, “We are permitting the sale of too much of our food industry, especially when government-controlled entities like ChemChina are the buyers.”

The senators want a treasury-led committee foreign investment review (CIFUS) to review the proposed Syngenta-ChemChina deal. If Syngenta is going to come here and take advantage of our markets, then we get to weigh in.

Syngenta was looking to profit, caring nothing about the damage it caused us, and has since done everything it could to avoid taking responsibility. It would care less what ChemChina takes from us as long as they got paid.

China is at fault here, too. ChemChina is their government and the Chinese government has blatantly used its GMO regulatory process as a trade weapon.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack cites “Inconsistencies and lack of synchronization” in biotech approvals. These regulatory actions are purposeful, serving as tools to control imports. “It doesn’t work for us to have them steal or buy seed technology and then restrict foreign access to Chinese markets for that technology.”

Syngenta is not worth nearly as much as ChemChina offered without the U.S. market. If it wants to run our technology through the wringer, then we should squeeze the heck out of theirs.

Syngenta has responded to the call for CIFUS scrutiny that this is just about the best thing that ever happened to U.S. and World Agriculture, claiming it will pass all tests with flying colors.

Someone should tell them that that is not the way they are perceived here now, with a Farm Journal Farm Pulse poll finding 44 percent of respondents saying that they have a negative opinion of the Syngenta/ChemChina deal and 36 percent saying that they felt very negative about it. Only 3 percent saw it positively.

So far Syngenta has not been much for damage control trying to weasel its way out of taking care of responsibilities on the cheap.

It would send a very bad signal to Beijing if we let them get away with this.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report.

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