Argentina Ends Talks with Monsanto

Battle over biotech seeds takes new turn as the country's government refuses to acknowledge the patents, but raises the seeds anyway. Compiled by staff

Published on: Jul 4, 2005

The use of biotech soybeans in Argentina has long been a thorn in the side of U.S. farmers. Those growers in South America get use of the technology, but don't have to pony up for the tech fees. Monsanto, which brought the technology to market, has long been pushing for users of the glyphosate-tolerant soybeans to pay for the intellectual property.

Late last week the Argentine government suspended talks with Monsanto over a payment system that would allow the company to collect royalties for the technology. Monsanto has filed a lawsuit in Denmark over the shipment of Argentine soybean products. Monsanto has a patent in Denmark and tested the Argentine shipment.

Tests on a cargo of the products shows they contained the Monsanto technology, which a wire service report notes is used in 95% of soybeans from the region. The key issue is how much, and how, Monsanto should be able to collected for the use of its seeds. The company has worked out deals with grain elevators in the country to try to collect fees, but that system is apparently not working.

Monsanto reports that Argentines pay for certified seed only 17% of the time, down fro 50% in 1996 when the technology was introduced to the market. However, Argentina's Agriculture Secretary Miguel Campos told reporters Friday that about 30% of the seeds are legal.

Monsanto wants to keep talking to Argentine officials about a solution to the problem, but for now those talks are stalled.