viernes, septiembre 29, 2006

Don't Cry to Them, Argentina

Is Monsanto playing fast and loose with Roundup Ready Soybeans in Argentina?

By Kelly Hearn
22 Sep 2006

Crying not for Argentina but for lost patent fees, Monsanto's legal hacks are in European courts suing to block millions of tons of Argentine soybean meal from docking on the continent.

Monsanto says that much of the meal crossing the Atlantic to feed Europe's cows and pigs contains traces of its genetically modified Roundup Ready Soybeans. Known as RR, the soybeans are tweaked to withstand the company's Roundup herbicide. This resistance lets farmers blanket entire fields with the chemical mixture rather than surgically applying it to kill off weeds.

Monsanto holds a patent for the seed in Europe, but not in Argentina, where a dispute over technology rights keeps the U.S.-based agri-giant from collecting technology fees on RR seed sales. By using its European patent to disrupt Argentina's lucrative soy-meal trade with Europe, the company hopes to strong-arm Argentine farmers into paying up.

Meanwhile, the tricky lawyering is shedding light on what critics say is a dubious corporate strategy to make Argentina a mega-lab for GM soybeans, one that's already spawned deep environmental and economic problems far off the radar screen of the international media.

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