By: Tom Polansek

Syngenta AG on Wednesday cleared one U.S. regulatory hurdle toward domestic marketing of corn seeds containing a trait that is genetically engineered to resist weed killers including glyphosate.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it will no longer regulate the Syngenta Seeds corn trait known as MZHG0JG.

The USDA has previously reviewed and deregulated the same trait in other genetically modified corn plants, spokesman Andre Bell said. Syngenta "may freely move and plant this crop without APHIS permits or additional regulatory oversight from us," he said.

Syngenta must still complete a consultation process about the corn trait with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, a company spokesman said.

The trait is engineered to resist glyphosate and glufosinate, an herbicide combination that Syngenta says will expand options for farmers battling the growing problem of weed resistance. Critics say such a combination will fuel the problem.

Glyphosate is the active weed-killing ingredient found in Monsanto Co's Roundup and other herbicides produced by farm chemical companies.

In March, the World Health Organization said glyphosate was "probably" linked to cancer. Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, and others have said that scientific data do not support the findings. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by David Gregorio)

Originally Published: Reuters