Monsanto Sues Syngenta Over Biotech Corn

Syngenta's new deal to acquire GA21 glyphosate-tolerance trait from Bayer is being called an infringement of intellectual property rights. Compiled by staff

Published on: May 13, 2004

On Wednesday Syngenta announced they would be acquiring GA21 glyphosate-tolerance trait in corn from Bayer CropScience. However, Monsanto, the patent holder of the trait, says Syngenta's move is in violation of Monsanto's patent which covers genes and vectors conferring glyphosate resistance in plants.

Filed in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., Monsanto’s suit requests a permanent injunction against Syngenta preventing its commercial sale in the United States of any corn using Monsanto’s patented technology. "Monsanto has clear intellectual property rights that have been infringed by Syngenta’s use of GA21 corn as a part of its commercial strategy in the United States," says Tom DeGroot, associate general counsel for Monsanto. "We intend to request an injunction against the sale or distribution in the United States of any GA21 corn by Syngenta."

"This case is totally without merit," says David Jones, Head of Business Development at Syngenta. "We are delighted to have secured worldwide ownership of commercially proven glyphosate tolerance technology for corn which we intend to make available to growers in the 2005 season."

Monsanto explains that the GA21 technology has largely been phased out in the marketplace in favor of an improved glyphosate-tolerant event called "NK603," which has been in the market since 2001. Today, Monsanto’s NK603 is commercially marketed as "Roundup Ready Corn 2."

The NK603 technology is standard in Monsanto’s DEKALB and Asgrow brands and is licensed for use by independent corn seed companies throughout the United States. Additionally, NK603 has obtained a broad number of regulatory clearances globally and is in the final stages of the regulatory review process in the European Union.

Syngenta called the case a " flagrant attempt to intimidate customers and restrict choice in the market." Jones says Syngenta is confident the company has the intellectual property rights we needed to commercialize the product.