Monsanto Canada Inc.

Monsanto Canada Inc.

January 06, 2011 07:00 ET

Monsanto Canada Preparing for Off-Patent Roundup Ready® Soybean Environment

- Communications Campaign Launched to Inform Farmers, Industry -

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA--(Marketwire - Jan. 6, 2011) - Monsanto Canada is launching an information campaign to inform soybean farmers and other stakeholders about the changes coming to Roundup Ready soybean production in Canada as a result of the August 2011 expiry of the Canadian patent for original Roundup Ready soybean technology. It will be the first widespread plant biotechnology trait to go off patent.

"We've been talking about this development with farmers, seed company licensees and others for some time now," said Mike McGuire, Monsanto's sales and marketing lead for eastern Canada. "However, as we start 2011, we are taking additional steps to make sure everyone is aware of what happens when the original Roundup Ready soybean technology patent expires in August of this year."

Those steps include the production and distribution of a brochure titled 'A Guide to Roundup Ready Soybean Patent Expiry' and the launch of a new website at www.soybeans.com, both of which contain information related to Roundup Ready soybean production in the post-patent environment.

McGuire notes that more than 60% of soybean acres in Canada are planted using the Roundup Ready system(1) and the company wants farmers and others in the industry to know what the implications of the patent expiry are going forward.

"There are a number of milestones that both farmers and licensees of this technology need to be aware of so they can plan their business operations and factor in the use of this technology accordingly," he noted.

Some of the major milestones associated with the expiry of the Roundup Ready soybean patent are:

In 2011: the Roundup Ready soybean trait patent expires in August 2011.

In 2011: contract obligations to not save seed under the Technology Stewardship Agreement remain in effect.

In 2012: a farmer may decide to buy certified Roundup Ready seed from a company holding a valid licence for Roundup Ready soybeans, without any contractual obligations or royalty payment to Monsanto.

In 2012: a farmer may decide to save seed from the 2012 harvest for replanting in 2013, as long as the seed company from which they purchased the seed, for 2012 planting, does not have any contractual obligations preventing them from doing so.

In 2013: a Canadian farmer may decide to plant Roundup Ready soybeans saved from his own seed.

Erin Romeo, intellectual property protection manager for Monsanto Canada based in Winnipeg, points out that even though the Roundup Ready soybean patent expires in 2011, farmers using the technology in 2011 will still be doing so during the life of the patent. As a result, they need to be aware that the patent law associated with this technology remains in effect.

"The vast majority of Canadian farmers respect patent law and honour the terms and conditions of the Technology Stewardship Agreements they sign," said Romeo. "And, as we have done every year since the introduction of Roundup Ready soybean technology in Canada, we will continue to operate the Technology Protection Field Check program as a way to help maintain a level playing field for all farmers using and benefitting from this technology."

Romeo added it is also important to note that the next-generation soybean technology (i.e. Genuity(R) Roundup Ready 2 Yield(R) soybeans) is covered by a different patent than the first-generation Roundup Ready trait technology. As a result, the changes that affect the use of the original Roundup Ready technology when its patent expires, do not apply to Genuity(R) Roundup Ready 2 Yield(R) soybeans.

For Monsanto's McGuire, the future is all about new technologies that will continue to help farmers be successful. "We continue to focus on providing farmers with the very best plant science technologies that will help them be successful," said McGuire "In our view, the best way to achieve this is by continuing to invest in research and development that leads to the introduction of new products and technologies."

McGuire said the company's commitment to this approach is reflected in the $2.6 million per day invested in researching and developing innovative technologies. And he points to Genuity(R) Roundup Ready 2 Yield(R) soybeans as an excellent example of breakthrough technology that offers significantly improved yield potential compared with original Roundup Ready soybeans.

"In the short time this new soybean technology has been commercially available, it has delivered results that traditionally would have taken years of breeding to accomplish," said McGuire.

In addition to the enhanced yield potential that the Genuity(R) Roundup Ready 2 Yield(R) technology offers, it will also form the platform for other technological innovations the company is working on including dicamba tolerant soybeans, low saturate fat soybean oil to meet growing consumer and food company demand for better oils and Omega-3 soybeans that produce oils with heart healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. At the same time, McGuire acknowledges the company's responsibility to steward existing technologies like Roundup Ready soybeans up to and beyond their patent life.

"We've made a number of commitments to support the ongoing availability, accessibility and usability of this technology if seed companies, farmers and others choose to use it. However, in doing so, we also want to make sure they have a clear understanding of what their opportunities and obligations are in the post-patent era. That's what this campaign is all about," he said.

In addition to the new website (www.soybeans.com) which is up and running now and the brochure (A Guide To Roundup Ready Soybean Patent Expiry), which will be distributed broadly over the course of the next month or two, there will also be other ways farmers and others can access information - including advertising and point-of-purchase materials - to learn more about Roundup Ready soybean patent expiry.

Headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Monsanto Canada Inc. is part of the larger global Monsanto family. Monsanto Company is an agricultural company and a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. Learn more about our business and our commitments at www.monsanto.ca.

(1) Brand Health and Image Study. Stratus AgriMarketing Inc., 2006.

ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready(R) crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup(R) brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup(R) brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Genuity(R), Roundup Ready(R), and Roundup Ready 2 Yield(R), are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC, Monsanto Canada, Inc. licensee. (C)2011 Monsanto Canada, Inc. TR2036-4-E-1/11\

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