Syngenta Seeds Agrees on $1.5 Million Penalty for Bt 10 Affair

On December 21st, the US company Syngenta Seeds has agreed to pay a penalty of 1.5 million US dollars for selling and distributing the unauthorised GM maize event Bt 10. In 2004, the unregistered GM maize event had reached markets in the USA, Europe and South America.

The GM maize event Bt 10 has been genetically modified to produce the Bt protein. Since this protein acts as an insecticide, the whole plant is then considered a pesticide in the USA. Therefore, it requires registration under the US Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Yet, Syngenta Seeds had not sought registration for Bt 10, as the company did not intend to market to GM maize.

Syngenta  sold and distributed seed lots that contained the unregistered GM maize Bt 10 by mistake in 2004. Even though the US government concluded that there are no human health or environmental concerns with Bt 10 maize, Syngenta Seeds decided to destroy the affected seed after recognising the mistake.

Now, Syngenta Seeds and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have agreed upon a penalty of 1.5 million US dollars for the distribution of Bt 10 seed. The Environmental Appeals Board, the final EPA decision maker on enforcement, still has to authorise the settlement.