The chief executive officer of agribusiness giant Syngenta is cautious about sales of the company’s branded corn seeds in the U.S. in the wake of a flood of lawsuits.
“For the U.S., we don’t have a look at the outcome of the 2015 season, but one would have to be very bullish indeed to think that corn acreage would expand a great deal,” CEO Michael Mack told Bloomberg News in an interview. Mack said caution would prevail on corn as long as “some of these questions remain in the market.”
Syngenta is facing hundreds of lawsuits filed by farmers and agribusiness companies such as Cargill regarding its genetically modified Agisure Viptera corn seeds. The lawsuits are seeking damages because China, a major export market, started rejecting shipments of corn that included Agrisure Viptera in November 2013 because it hadn’t approved the variety.
Syngenta argues that the lawsuits are without merit. The company announced in December that China had granted import approval to Agrisure Viptera, but the lawsuits remain in play.
Agrisure Viptera is an insect-resistant corn that was discovered at Syngenta’s global headquarters for biotechnology research in Research Triangle Park.
Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland, also reported Friday that its first-quarter sales declined 14 percent to $4 billion because of the dollar’s strength against the Euro and other currencies. Sales were flat after adjusting for currency fluctuations.
Syngenta didn’t report quarterly net income for the first quarter.
Syngenta’s stock-like American depositary receipts were trading at $68.89, down $2.70. Its ADRs have risen 7 percent this year.