GENET archive

[Index][Thread]

4-Patents: Argentine Agriculture Secretary discusses Monsanto concerns with US Government



                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Argentine Ag Chief discusses Monsanto concerns with US Gov
SOURCE: Dow Jones Commodities Service, by Bill Tomson and Taos Turner
        posted by Checkbiotech, Switzerland
        http://www.checkbiotech.org/root/index.cfm?
fuseaction=newsletter&topic_id=5&subtopic_id=25&doc_id=1230
DATE:   23 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Argentine Ag Chief discusses Monsanto concerns with US Gov

WASHINGTON - Argentine Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos made his case
Wednesday to U.S. government officials that the U.S.-based biotech giant
Monsanto Co. was wrong to claim that Argentine farmers have to pay
royalties to the company every time they plant its biotech Roundup Ready
soybean seeds.

Campos, in an Interview with Dow Jones Newswires, said he wanted to make
it clear to the U.S. government that he doesn't believe his opposition
to Monsanto's plan to collect royalties breaks U.S. intellectual
property laws.

Monsanto spokespeople were not available for immediate comment. The
Argentine Agriculture Secretary met with high-level U.S. Department of
Agriculture officials for about an hour Wednesday afternoon. Campos said
the USDA officials did not offer an opinion on his dispute with
Monsanto, but he said that was OK because he was just using the meeting
to get his message to the Bush administration.

Campos said he wanted to "teil our part of the truth."

Monsanto seeds are used to plant around 95% of Argentina's soybean crop
each year and the company has claimed Argentine farmers properly pay for
the company's Roundup Ready soybean seeds only about 20% of the time.
Often the seeds are bought illegally in an underground seed market or
replanted after each harvest, according to the company.

Argentina's dispute with Monsanto has escalated recently as European
Union customs officials, at the behest of the company, continue to
detain shipments of Argentine soybean and soymeal shipments to inspect
them for products derived from Monsanto seeds.

Argentina allowed farmers to plant Monsanto's most widely used product,
Roundup Ready soybean seeds, in 1996, but the company doesn't hold a
patent for them in Argentina. That limits Monsanto's legal authority in
Argentina, but the company does hold a patent in the E.U.

E.U. customs officials detained a shipment of Argentine soymeal in Spain
earlier this month, the third shipment to be detained in Spain this
year. A separate shipment was detained recently in the U.K., and two
shipments to Denmark and the Netherlands were detained last year.

Argentina exported 11 million metric tons worth of soybean products to
the E.U. last year. As measured in dollars, soybean-related exports to
Europe totaled about $2 billion in 2005, according to data from
Argentina's Agriculture Secretariat.



                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Seeds of dispute
SOURCE: The Guardina, UK, by Oliver Balch
        http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1715329,00.html
DATE:   22 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Seeds of dispute
It's Argentina v Monsanto in the battle for control over GM soy
technology, writes Oliver Balch

Tensions between Monsanto and Argentina are escalating as the US biotech
company steps up its efforts to win back control over booming Latin
American soy production.
Brazil and Argentina are, after the US, the two largest soy producers in
the world. Brazilian farmers planted 9.4m hectares of GM soy last year,
an increase of 88% on 2004.

But Monsanto's primary concern is Argentina, where 98% of soy production
is GM. Almost all of this is based on genetic technology developed by
the Missouri-based seed giant and licensed to local manufacturers.

It is the story of a love spurned. When Monsanto introduced GM
technology in Argentina, 10 years ago, the country's farmers lapped it
up. Cultivation of herbicide-resistant soybeans has since grown from six
million hectares in 1997 to present levels of around 16m hectares - more
than half the country's total agricultural land.
The problem facing Monsanto is how to keep riding Argentina's soy
expansion, estimated to hit a record 42m tonnes for the 2005/2006 season.

Initially, most of Monsanto's profits were generated through the sale of
its Roundup herbicide, which kills weeds but not GM crops.

When Monsanto's worldwide patent on the herbicide technology came to an
end in 2000, cheaper equivalents began to enter the market and it had to
look elsewhere for returns.

The answer came in the shape of royalties on the sale of its Roundup
Ready soy seeds. This is a model Monsanto employs successfully in the
US, adding an additional "technology fee" to seed price to cover the use
of its intellectual property.

Argentinian farmers, however, are less keen than their US counterparts
to stump up the surcharge. Their position is strengthened by Argentina's
consistent refusal to register Monsanto's Roundup Ready patent. In 2001,
the issue got as far as the country's supreme court. For once, Monsanto lost.

"Argentinian local seed companies are making their own seeds for a lower
price", explains Juan López, international coordinator of the Friends of
the Earth GM campaign.

"Farmers are not ready to pay [the] extra percentage for the technology
royalty, because they can get it from the black market. They just don't
need Monsanto in Argentina."

When Monsanto first entered the Argentinian market, it issued national
seed producers with technology transfer agreements to develop its
Roundup Ready soy strain. It is seeds from these companies that are
finding their way on to the black market, now estimated to represent
nearly one-third of all seed sales.

The practice of farmers storing seeds from one harvest to the next also
dents Monsanto's profits.

Monsanto could not be contacted for comment on its strategy to regain
control of its property rights in Argentina. However, recent
developments suggest the US company is pursuing a two-pronged plan.

According to the Monsanto website, it is now concentrating on claiming
royalties when farmers come to sell their soy crop, rather than when
they buy the GM soy seeds.

Last year, Monsanto wrote a letter to all exporters and importers
explaining its intention to charge a fee of between $15 (£8.60) and
$18.75 on every tonne of Argentinian soy produced with its Roundup Ready
technology. Argentinian soy currently trades at around $178 a tonne.

"[Monsanto] reserves the right to begin legal actions, on the assumption
of uncovering imports from Latin America of unlicensed Roundup Ready
soy, in countries where the said technology is protected by intellectual
property rights," a statement by the company reads.

In keeping with the strategy, a ship carrying 5,900 tonnes of GM soy
grain, worth an estimated $1m, was detained in Liverpool earlier this
month. Monsanto tested the shipment for Roundup Ready technology in the
prelude to a lawsuit.

Over the past six months, Monsanto has also filed cases for patent
infringement in Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain.

If Monsanto is successful, campaigners fear, the company could claim
part-ownership rights on any product containing the Roundup Ready gene.
Given that most highly processed foods contain an element of soy, such a
list could potentially include everything from European margarine to
Chinese soy sauce.

"In the case of Argentina, Monsanto is really challenging its rights
over processed food, not just over the seeds. This is something new.
It's never happened before," Mr López warns.

The news coincides with a ruling by the World Trade Organisation earlier
this month against EU import restrictions on GM crops and food.

The second string to the company's strategy is to try to block farmers
from storing seeds.

It is collaborating with the international biotech industry to remove a
de facto UN moratorium currently in place against genetic use
restriction technologies (Gurts).

Under these so-called "terminator" technologies, plants are genetically
programmed to become infertile after a set period of time.

"Monsanto is desperate to recapture royalties from its GM seeds, and
terminator is the perfect solution because it would be able to
biologically ensure that farmers have to return to the market every
year," says Lucy Sharratt, coordinator of the Ban Terminator campaign.

Following industry lobbying, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
is due to consider case-by-case testing of terminator technologies in
its annual meeting in Brazil on March 20.

The stakes are high. As Ms Sharratt explains: "Instead of suing farmers
- which is what Monsanto is doing in North America - for saving seed, it
will be able to take a technical solution to what is otherwise a huge
financial problem for Monsanto and threatens its future use of genetic
engineering."

· Oliver Balch is a Buenos Aires-based journalist specialising in
sustainable development and Latin American affairs



                                 PART III
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Argentina Helping EU Soy Importers Fight Monsanto Lawsuits	
SOURCE: Dow Jones Newswires, by Taos Turner / Morning Star, USA
        http://news.morningstar.com/news/DJ/M02/
D09/200602091710DOWJONESDJONLINE001152.html?Cat=Americas
DATE:   09 Feb 2006

------------------ archive:  http://www.genet-info.org/ ------------------


Argentina Helping EU Soy Importers Fight Monsanto Lawsuits		


BUENOS AIRES -(Dow Jones)- The Argentine government is helping European
soybean importers in their fight to prevent lawsuits and other actions
by Monsanto (MON), a leading maker of soybean seeds, from disrupting
soybean exports to the E.U., Gustavo Idigoras, Argentina's agricultural
attache to the E.U., said Thursday.

In recent months Monsanto has sought to show that soybean exports to the
E.U. are derived from a Monsanto-made seed, whose patent is recognized
in Europe but not in Argentina. Monsanto has been asking customs
officials in Denmark, the U.K., the Netherlands and Spain to take
samples of such shipments to prove that they were made with Monsanto seeds.

This has led to the temporary detainment of some soybean shipments.
Monsanto's actions aim to pressure the Argentine government into forcing
farmers here to pay for the right to use Monsanto's seeds.

Monsanto says it is pursuing these actions only after two years of
failed dialog with the government, which, the company says, hasn't
addressed the claim that farmers buy legal soybean seeds only 20% of the
time. The rest of the time, farmers buy the seeds illegally in an
underground market and then replant them after each harvest. The seeds,
known as Roundup Ready, are used to plant 95% of the soybeans in Argentina.

Argentina is now moving to help European importers defend themselves in
two lawsuits filed by Monsanto last year in Denmark and Holland. Last
week Argentina asked a Dutch judge to allow it to participate as a
"joinder to the party" in that case, Idigoras said. Next week the
government will make a similar request in Denmark.

The Dutch judge has asked the parties if they would accept the Argentine
government's involvement in the case. Importers said yes while Monsanto
has asked for a few days to ponder the issue.

Argentine officials, Idigoras said, are giving importers "technical and
legal" assistance to fight Monsanto's claim that importers ought to pay
a fee when buying Argentine soybeans. Monsanto wants the fee - $15 per
metric ton - to compensate for the company's inability to collect
royalties in Argentina.

Monsanto's actions recently led to the detainment of three shipments to
Spain and England. Idigoras expects another ship to be detained in
Germany within the next few days.

"Monsanto has changed its strategy," Idigoras said. "Last year it only
asked for test samples. Now it is seeking to have the cargo of these
shipments detained until it can be establish that they contain products
derived from Monsanto seeds. This is generating costs and uncertainty
for importers."

Meanwhile, Idigoras said the government is open to dialog and would like
to find a negotiated solution to the dispute.

"The government's doors are always open," he said. "We've asked Monsanto
to drop these suits and return to the table to dialog about this."

Despite all the trouble, Idigoras said the shipping problems haven't
halted trade with Europe.

"This hasn't interrupted exports," he said. "Exports continue. They are
arriving now from the last harvest and the next harvest will begin
arriving in May."

For its part, Monsanto says it has no power to detain any shipments and
that it is customs officials, not the company, who decide if a shipment
should be detained.

"We are engaging custom authorities and E.U. rules to obtain samples
form cargo shipments so we can show patent infringement," Monsanto
spokesman Federico Ovejero said. "It is not our intention to interfere
with trade."

Ovejero said Monsanto "is still committed to finding a local solution to
this problem" in Argentina.

"We are still participating in meetings with the private sector at the
Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange to figure out a way to resolve this," he said.

Argentina exported 11 million tons worth of soybean products to the E.U.
last year. As measured in dollars, soybean-related exports to Europe
totaled about $2 billion in 2005, Idigoras said.



--


GENET
European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig
Germany

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)genet-info.org
W: <http://www.genet-info.org>



-----------------------------
   GENET-news mailing list
-----------------------------