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Agricultural News

Monsanto Promises to Maintain Export Market Approvals for Expiring Biotech Soybean Traits

Thu, 08 Jul 2010 12:14:52 CDT

Monsanto Promises to Maintain Export Market Approvals for Expiring Biotech Soybean Traits Ag groups are praising Monsanto for their decision to support the trade viability of biotech soybeans after patents expire in the next few years. Two groups have issued statements thus far- the American Farm Bureau and the American Soybean Association.

Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation offers this statement in response to the announcement by Monsanto:

"Ensuring a viable international marketplace for biotech crops once their patents expire is a matter of extreme importance to America's farmers and ranchers. Farmers who choose to continue planting a biotech crop no longer covered by patents, from either purchased or saved seed, must be able to count on those crops being accepted in international markets. Due to the often-shifting sands of international trade regulations, however, maintaining approval for any biotech crop can be an expensive, time-consuming matter.

"That is why we applaud an announcement made by Monsanto that it is willing to extend its international regulatory support for 'Roundup Ready' (RR1) soybeans until 2021. The patent to those soybeans expires in 2014. In the short-term, this extension provides additional security to help limit trade disruptions as the agriculture community works toward the goal of maintaining international approval for products no longer covered by patents.

"While this announcement is encouraging, Farm Bureau recognizes the need for a long-term approach to address a future where multiple generic biotech products will exist in the marketplace. To that point, we are committed to working through the industrywide dialogue hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, as well as through other channels as necessary to ensure that generic products are available to our farmers and that those products continue to have marketplace acceptance abroad. We look forward to working with all stakeholders on this issue in a constructive and transparent fashion."


The American Soybean Association has also weighed in favorably in regards to this statement from Monsanto. They have proved this news release with details of their support of this announcement:

The American Soybean Association (ASA) is pleased that Monsanto has committed to ASA in a letter dated July 8, 2010, to maintain export market approvals for the first biotech soybean trait "Roundup Ready" or "RR1" through 2021. Monsanto will officially communicate this commitment to all of its licensees. With the patent on RR1 due to expire in 2014, and patents on other traits expiring in future years, ASA has been actively working to develop pathways that will facilitate the continued availability of traits to soybean farmers as single generic traits or as part of stacked traits after patent expiration.

"Agriculture is blazing a new trail as the patents on first generation of biotech-enhanced seed traits begin to expire," said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean farmer from Sidney, Ohio. "While supporting patent protection for traits as a key driver for continued soybean seed industry investment and innovation, ASA desires competition to flourish, generic traits to be available in the marketplace, and prices for seed containing generic traits to decline once trait patents expire."

Monsanto's commitment to maintain export approvals worldwide for RR1 through 2021 will ensure export market access for U.S. soybeans containing the RR1 trait for the next decade. ASA believes this commitment will also provide greater certainty to seed companies and university breeders so they can dedicate the time, money, and germplasm necessary to continuing to offer high-yielding soybean varieties containing the RR1 trait, including when it becomes a generic trait after 2014.

However, since the RR1 trait is likely to continue to be offered in soybean varieties and identified in export shipments after 2021, ASA believes a longer-term approach must be developed for maintaining export registrations for RR1 as well as other traits whose patents will be expiring. "ASA is pleased that the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has started work to develop a long-term approach for maintaining export market registrations and dealing with other issues concerning traits whose patents will be expiring," Joslin said. "ASA looks forward to consulting with BIO in this process and developing long-term solutions to these issues."

"Because the BIO process may take months, the patent on Monsanto's RR1 trait will expire in 2014, and seed company and university soybean breeders are making decisions now on whether to continue to breed with the RR1 trait, ASA has encouraged Monsanto to take unilateral action in a number of areas to ease marketplace uncertainties that exist," Joslin stated. "ASA welcomes Monsanto's commitment to maintain worldwide registrations through 2021, and we look forward to further discussions with Monsanto and other industry members to address related innovation and competition issues."

ASA is continuing to have discussions with Monsanto, other biotech and seed companies, BIO, the American Seed Trade Association, and other farm organizations about the need to address other seed industry innovation and competition issues. These issues include: a) a system for obtaining access to the data package for a patented trait so that export market registrations for stacked traits can be sought on a timely basis; and b) a process under which private and public sector breeders can work with a trait before patent expiration to advance single trait or stacked trait breeding programs. ASA believes agreement on these issues is critical in fostering conditions that optimize competition, choice, and innovation in the seed industry.



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