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Thursday 14 February 2013

Patricia Covarrubia

Paraguay: a week of 'modification' for soybeans

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Last Monday, 11th February, the Paraguayan’s Agriculture Ministry informed that authorization has been given to Monsanto's Intacta RR2 Pro genetically modified (GM) soybeans. The product is the second generation of its previous product Roundup Ready soybeans (i.e. RR). The GM soybeans apart from being resistant to glyphosate-based herbicides, it also protects against caterpillars.

The news comes after last week events where a group of Paraguayan farmers introduced an injunctive relief to stop Monsanto from charging royalties for use of its RR soybeans. The argument is based on the fact that the patent of this product expired back in 2010 [we may recall a similar case regarding the expiration date; back in 2011 a Brazilian Specialized Federal Regional Court upheld the action for rescission brought by INPI to overturn the extension of two patents owned by Monsanto, posted here].

Reuters reports that the Paraguayan farmers were encouraged by “a similar case in neighboring Brazil where a state court ordered Monsanto to stop charging for use of the seed technology.” In the same line the Paraguayan Soy Producers' Association proposed to cease payment but “without any prejudice to other negotiations on different strains" i.e. RR2 While Monsanto spokesman in Paraguay declined to comment on the farmers' legal action, the company defended an agreement that was signed with farming associations in 2004 and due to expire in 2014. The contract establishes “payments for the use of its seed technology” and it is argued “that its royalty rights remain in place for as long as there are valid patents on the technology anywhere in the world.”

In Brazil the deal finished by Monsanto releasing the farmers from any payment (this and next season) of  royalties regarding the first generation RR soybeans in exchange for the farmers to wave "all potential legal claims for payments previously made for this first-generation technology". Also Monsanto said that "the farmers will secure licenses to purchase new soybean technology" i.e. Intacta RR2 Pro.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia