Iowa AG digs into farm giant Monsanto after soybean suit settled
by Rob Luke
Legal Newsline, Sept 14 2007
DES MOINES - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has launched an anti-trust probe of St. Louis agribusiness giant Monsanto, the parties revealed today (Thursday).
Monsanto informed the market this morning that it will provide Miller with information about its seed licensing and marketing programs after a "civil investigative demand." Miller is currently investigating possible anti-trust violation by Monsanto, AP reported this afternoon.
The announcements came nine days after Monsanto and Iowa State University (ISU) resolved a patent dispute over a Monsanto low-acid soybean program. ISU sued Monsanto claiming it had originated the soybean variety in question, AP reported last week.
Monsanto's statement said the company would provide information on its seed-, trait- and chemistry-related licensing and marketing programs "to [Miller's] office, as well as any other interested state attorneys general."
"Given the pace and scale of ag biotechnology adoption, it is understandable why regulators want to know more about competition in modern agriculture and how products are developed and used," said Monsanto General Counsel David Snively.
"Monsanto broadly licenses improved germplasm and traits to hundreds of competing seed companies so that farmers who wish to plant seed with the company's technology and germplasm innovations can choose the seed brands they prefer," the statement added.
Under its settlement agreement with ISU, Monsanto will develop current and future low-linoleic acid sybean varieties - which could produce trans fat-free beans - under commercial licence. ISU in turn gets a research licence for a Monsanto Roundup-resistant soybean variety.
Miller's office said the attorney general was currently seeking information on Monsanto's business practices, today's AP report noted.