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Home News Swiss court orders removal of public fungicide warning after Syngenta suit

Swiss court orders removal of public fungicide warning after Syngenta suit

Published on 28/08/2020

Switzerland’s food safety authority has been ordered to temporarily remove a warning about the fungicide chlorothalonil from its website, according to a ruling published Friday, in a case brought by agrochemical giant Syngenta, .

The Swiss Federal Administrative Court said in a statement that it had ordered that information Syngenta deemed false about chlorothalonil should be temporarily removed while the safety of the chemical is revaluated.

The multinational company had filed a suit against Switzerland’s Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) after it warned that chlorothalonil, a component in widely used fungicides, was a probable carcinogen.

Syngenta, which sells chlorothalonil under the Bravo brand, charged that the Swiss authority’s determination the compound could cause cancer, which it had based in part on a risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority, was incorrect.

The Swiss-based company, which was bought by ChemChina for $43 billion in 2017, referred to other studies that disputed any carcinogenic effect, and requested that FSVO revoke its reassessment of chlorothalonil.

Its initial complaint was dismissed, but Syngenta appealed to the Swiss Federal Administrative Court, complaining that FSVO was disseminating false information that was harming its business.

The court said in its statement that it “temporarily approves the complainant’s request for precautionary measures, (and) thus instructs the FSVO to temporarily remove the relevant content from its website”.

It added that the “accuracy of the contested information” would be examined in a separate case, in which Syngenta has appealed a decision last December by the Swiss agriculture department to withdraw Syngenta’s licence to sell plant protection products containing chlorothalonil.

The court stressed that its interim ruling could be appealed to Switzerland’s supreme court.