Pioneer & NFU say Monsanto's RR1 plans don't go far enough on biotech seeds

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 9 – In separate statements Friday, both Pioneer and National Farmers Union (NFU) call on Monsanto to provide legally enforceable post-patent provisions for biotech seeds.

NFU President Roger Johnson sees Monsanto's continuing support for its Roundup Ready® soybean trait (RR1) as “ a positive first step.” But he wants broader protections for biotech seeds, explaining that:

“Monsanto's statement of extending international regulatory support for RR1 soybeans until 2021is appreciated but there is more to the process of biotech patenting and planning in order to obtain a proper result.

“While this is a positive first step NFU does not believe that this is the sole answer to a timely and enforceable mechanism to ensure that generic competition arrives in biotech seeds as soon as the RR1 patent expires.

“Because the patent for these soybeans expires in 2014, the immediate development of generic-based products or timely access to regulatory data, so that new seeds containing the generic version of RR1 needs to be available to farmers in 2015.

“What Monsanto has outlined does not solve the whole problem of pre and post patent issues. A strategic plan must allow for the empowerment of more readily available development in the biotech industry. It is important to realize that all patented biotech traits face this issue and the non binding agreement Monsanto has mentioned only works with one.

“NFU will continue to work for a process to guarantee generic trait availability.”

Iowa-based Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a hybrid seed developer and supplier, went further in its statement. Calling for “a legally enforceable means of successfully maintaining foreign registrations through the entire life-cycle of RR1,” Pioneer stated that:

“Pioneer believes in the same principles that our customers have voiced through the May 19th joint statement from the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, and the National Farmers Union: There can be no Roundup Ready® (RR1) solution until and unless Monsanto is willing to provide the industry as a whole with a) immediate access to regulatory data, b) the ability to start product development now on post-patent combinations, and c) a legally enforceable means of successfully maintaining foreign registrations through the entire life-cycle of RR1. Monsanto has been unwilling to make these commitments, either to Pioneer or to the industry, and, as today's statement makes crystal clear, it remains unwilling to do so.”

To read Monsanto's two-page letter sent to farm organizations regarding RR1 soybeans, go to:

For Farm Bureau's reaction to the Monsanto announcement, go to:

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