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4-Patents: Monsanto tests more Argentine soy in Europe

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TITLE:  Monsanto tests more Argentine soy in Europe
SOURCE: Reuters, by Hilary Burke and Karina Grazina
DATE:   12 Sep 2005

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Monsanto tests more Argentine soy in Europe

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co. has tested more
Argentine soy shipments in Europe for its Roundup Ready gene, the company
said on Monday, to boost its case in lawsuits aimed at forcing Argentina
to pay royalties.

With the permission of importers, the U.S. biotech giant took samples of
Argentine soy in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. An Agriculture
Secretariat official said on condition of anonymity that another sample
was taken in Hamburg, Germany.

"We can confirm that voluntary samples have been taken in Spain as an
additional tool for establishing our rights," Monsanto Argentina
spokesman Federico Ovejero told Reuters. He noted that samples have been
taken elsewhere but did not elaborate.

Earlier this year, Monsanto filed patent infringement suits based on such
samples in Denmark and the Netherlands against Argentine soy importers.
Monsanto's Roundup Ready gene is patented in those countries, but not in

Europe is the top market for soymeal from Argentina, the world's No.1
soymeal and soyoil supplier. Ovejero said Monsanto plans to keep taking
voluntary samples in European nations.

The company has long lobbied for a new royalties scheme in Argentina, the
world's No.3 soybean producer, where many local farmers avoid paying
royalties to Monsanto by purchasing herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready
seeds on the black market.

In European courts, Monsanto aims to establish a right to charge
royalties on importers -- the cost of which would filter down to
exporters and Argentine farmers. The company threatened once to impose
$15-per-tonne fines on Argentine soy shipments.


Although Monsanto's moves have caused concern in Europe and Argentina,
trade so far has been unaffected.

"We are their top supplier and they don't have the possibility of
diversifying with such big volumes," the Agriculture Secretariat official
said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The trials in Denmark and the Netherlands are due to kick off in late
September and are likely to last about one year, he said. Argentina hopes
to participate as a third party, but this would require the assent of
both Monsanto and the importers.

"We doubt Monsanto will allow us to participate," the official said,
adding that the government has European lawyers working on the case.

In Argentina, the government is drafting a resolution to limit farmers'
legal right to cull their own seeds and replant them without having to
pay royalties, the official said.

Also, the government recently sent letters to 15,000 farmers, requiring
them to show proof of where they bought their seeds.

"This has been very well-received by European companies, because these
are clear measures showing that Argentina is working to improve
controls," the official said.

For his part, Ovejero said: "The dialogue is continuing with all players
on the local level."

In 1996, Argentina approved Roundup Ready seeds, which revolutionized soy
production because they are cheaper and easier to grow than conventional


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