1.Dow says it wins patent for biocrops
2.Monsanto testing Argentine soy in Europe
Ever noticed how almost every aspect of Monsanto's GM business seems to be a struggle?
EXCERPTS: St. Louis-based Monsanto stopped selling the Roundup Ready soybean seeds in Argentina last year because it was unable to collect royalties and said the business was unprofitable. The company has been unable to obtain a patent on its soy, so most farmers use it without paying royalties.
Argentina is the world's third-largest soybean producer (item 2)
Dow Chemical Co. said Tuesday it won rights to a "broad and enabling" technology for creating genetically modified crops, such as those sold by Monsanto Co. (item 1)
1.Dow says it wins patent for biocrops
By Rachel Melcer
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Dow Chemical Co. said Tuesday it won rights to a "broad and enabling" technology for creating genetically modified crops, such as those sold by Monsanto Co. of Creve Coeur.
Concluding a dispute between the two companies that has run for more than a decade, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to Dow AgroSciences LLC, an Indianapolis-based subsidiary of the chemical giant.
The patent applies to a method of transferring genes from a bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis, to plants. The bacterium, known as Bt, kills certain insects.
Monsanto has yet to review the patent ruling, spokeswoman Lori Fisher said. However, Monsanto believes it holds sufficient patents on related technology to continue marketing and developing its products, she said.
Still, Dow said the patent allows it to seek royalties from competitors, which use Bt technology to make corn and cotton plants resistant to certain destructive pests. And Fisher said she did not yet know if Monsanto could be held to royalty payments under the patent issuance.
Besides Monsanto, Bt crops are sold by Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. through a partnership with Dow AgroSciences. Syngenta AG has said it is developing the technology, too.
Yet, Dow said its interests lie beyond collecting royalty payments. It would rather use the patent as leverage to settle outstanding intellectual-property lawsuits, or to formulate cross-licensing deals for its competitors' technology, spokesman Garry Hamlin said.
"There is a lot of patent dispute in the biotech industry - essentially all major companies are involved in litigation," he said. "We see this as an opportunity for resolution of some of those disputes, as opposed to spending time in court, which is not very productive."
The patent could be challenged in court. Monsanto has not yet made any such decision, Fisher said.
An estimated 29 million acres of Bt corn, and 7 million acres of Bt cotton were planted in the United States this year, according to a survey by the Agriculture Department.
Monsanto said that this year it sold Bt corn seed sufficient for planting 37.2 million U.S. acres and enough Bt cotton seed for 7.4 million acres.
Dow does not release such information.
Monsanto's shares lost 90 cents in trading Tuesday to close at $64.21. Dow shares dropped 72 cents, closing at $44.25.
2.Report: Monsanto testing Argentine soy in Europe
St. Louis Business Journal - 9:42 AM CDT Tuesday
Monsanto Co. is reportedly testing some shipments of soy from Argentina in Europe in an effort to make Argentine farmers pay royalties on its Roundup Ready trait, according to published reports.
Monsanto's Argentine unit announced plans earlier this year to charge $15 per ton on shipments of Roundup Ready soy from Argentina in countries where its seeds are patented. The company has patents on its Roundup Ready soy in five European countries, which together imported more than 9 million tons of Argentine soybean products last year. However, the company hasn't been able to reach an agreement with government negotiators.
The Argentine government is working on a resolution to limit farmers' legal right to cull their own seeds and replant them without having to pay royalties, a government official told Reuters news service.
In March, Argentine farmers traveled to the European Union in an effort to prevent Monsanto Co. from forcing them to pay royalties on its soybean seeds. They said because Monsanto doesn't have a patent on Roundup Ready soy in Argentina, it should not be able to collect royalties on soy imported into Europe from Argentina.
St. Louis-based Monsanto (NYSE: MON) stopped selling the Roundup Ready soybean seeds in Argentina last year because it was unable to collect royalties and said the business was unprofitable. The company has been unable to obtain a patent on its soy, so most farmers use it without paying royalties.
Argentina is the world's third-largest soybean producer behind the United States and Brazil. An estimated 95 percent of the crop in Argentina is planted from genetically modified seeds, most of which are bought in the black market.