Monsanto Committed to Maintain Export Market Registrations for RR trait

The American Soybean Association (ASA), the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Farmers Union (NFU) are pleased that Monsanto has committed to maintain export market approvals for the first biotech soybean trait “Roundup Ready” or “RR1” through 2021. Monsanto will officially communicate this commitment to all of its licensees. With the patent on RR1 due to expire in 2014, and patents on other traits expiring in future years, ASA has been actively working to develop pathways that will facilitate the continued availability of traits to soybean farmers as single generic traits or as part of stacked traits after patent expiration.
“Agriculture is blazing a new trail as the patents on first generation of biotech-enhanced seed traits begin to expire,” said Rob Joslin, ASA President and a soybean farmer from Sidney, Ohio. “While supporting patent protection for traits as a key driver for continued soybean seed industry investment and innovation, ASA desires competition to flourish, generic traits to be available in the marketplace, and prices for seed containing generic traits to decline once trait patents expire.”
Monsanto’s commitment to maintain export approvals worldwide for RR1 through 2021 will ensure export market access for U.S. soybeans containing the RR1 trait for the next decade. ASA believes this commitment will also provide greater certainty to seed companies and university breeders so they can dedicate the time, money, and germplasm necessary to continuing to offer high-yielding soybean varieties containing the RR1 trait, including when it becomes a generic trait after 2014.
However, since the RR1 trait is likely to continue to be offered in soybean varieties and identified in export shipments after 2021, ASA believes a longer-term approach must be developed for maintaining export registrations for RR1 as well as other traits whose patents will be expiring.
“ASA is pleased that the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has started work to develop a long-term approach for maintaining export market registrations and dealing with other issues concerning traits whose patents will be expiring,” Joslin said. “ASA looks forward to consulting with BIO in this process and developing long-term solutions to these issues.
“Because the BIO process may take months, the patent on Monsanto’s RR1 trait will expire in 2014, and seed company and university soybean breeders are making decisions now on whether to continue to breed with the RR1 trait, ASA has encouraged Monsanto to take unilateral action in a number of areas to ease marketplace uncertainties that exist. ASA welcomes Monsanto’s commitment to maintain worldwide registrations through 2021, and we look forward to further discussions with Monsanto and other industry members to address related innovation and competition issues.”
ASA is continuing to have discussions with Monsanto, other biotech and seed companies, BIO, the American Seed Trade Association, and other farm organizations about the need to address other seed industry innovation and competition issues. These issues include: a) a system for obtaining access to the data package for a patented trait so that export market registrations for stacked traits can be sought on a timely basis; and b) a process under which private and public sector breeders can work with a trait before patent expiration to advance single trait or stacked trait breeding programs. ASA believes agreement on these issues is critical in fostering conditions that optimize competition, choice, and innovation in the seed industry.
Other farm organization leaders agree that more work in this area is needed.
“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,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president. “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.”

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