Top Crop Manager

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Patent expiry an important announcement by trait holder


November 30, 1999
By Top Crop Manager

Feb. 22, 2011 – When it comes to news about traits and technology in seed, Canada is not often thought of in “exclusive terms.” However, that is the case as Monsanto Canada is preparing for the expiration of the patent on the original Roundup Ready technology for soybeans. What that means is that for the first time since the technology’s introduction to Canada in the mid-1990s, growers will be allowed to save seed, however, there are some stipulations and issues that have to be acknowledged.

Although Monsanto Canada is preparing for the patent expiry, set to occur in Canada in August 2011, growers will not be able to save their seed until the following year, 2012. Since they will have planted patented or seeded Roundup Ready soybeans, and have signed their Technology Stewardship Agreement (including the stipulation to not save seed from the 2011 season), their opportunity to save seed actually comes with the 2012 planting/seeding season, which means they will not be planting or seeding any saved seed until the spring of 2013.

Very important details
This is a very important condition that comes with the patent’s expiry. It is also why Monsanto Canada is launching two separate information campaigns for 2011, with one in the spring and another in the fall. “We believe the vast majority of Canadian farmers respect and honour the terms and conditions of the technology stewardship agreements they sign,” says Erin Romeo, intellectual property protection manager for Monsanto Canada. “And as we have done every since the introduction of the technology in Canada, we will continue to do 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.”

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The US patent expires in 2014.
It was also an important issue for Monsanto in terms of drawing in participants from across the seed sector; in this day and age of consolidation, co-operation is an important facet in business. “We didn’t force this, but instead, asked for commitment from participating seed companies,” explains Mike McGuire, Monsanto’s sales and marketing lead for Eastern Canada. “We’ve been talking about this development with farmers, seed company licensees and others for some time, now. And we’ll continue with registrations globally.”

Other developments that Monsanto Canada is eyeing include the launch of dicamba-stacked soybean varieties, forecast for 2014, and high yield gene varieties, which will be incorporated into the dicamba-stacked varieties. That development is slated for 2015. The dicamba-stacked varieties will help growers deal with the growing challenge of glyphosate resistance; in this case, with giant ragweed. The company is also working on enhanced omega-3 varieties for better expression for more northerly climate regions. “The technology that helps consumer is getting closer to reality, instead of being known as ‘just for the farmers’,” says McGuire.