, Farm Journal Seeds & Production Editor
A seed feud has emerged over Optimum GAT, a new trait that was due to arrive in farmer's fields in 2010. Yesterday, Monsanto Company announced that it filed suit in St. Louis federal courts against E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company and its subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.
At issue is the new GAT trait technology that combines DuPont's proprietary glyphosate tolerance with ALS herbicide resistance, as well as, Monsanto's Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant technology in corn and soybeans. Monsanto says this stacking of their proprietary trait is unlawful and violates patents and contractual agreements. DuPont denies this claim and alleges the lawsuit demonstrates Monsanto's anti-competitive conduct.
The press releases from both companies make for some interesting reading and you can read the full accounts below.
In a nutshell, Hugh Grant, Monsanto's Chief Executive Officer, thinks DuPont's actions are "unethical and wrong.” The news bulletin points out that this is not the first time Monsanto has had to file litigation against Pioneer for breaches of their contractual obligations. In a previous case involving the YieldGard Corn Borer trait, it was determined that Pioneer had breached its license and improperly used patented technology. "A true technology company respects patents and its contractual agreements and delivers new products through its own innovation and honest collaboration,” says Grant.
Meanwhile, DuPont Group Vice President James C. Borel pledges "to stand with the American farmers and fight Monsanto's efforts to deny them access to competitive products.” DuPont points to a 2008 ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice that required Monsanto to abandon restrictions imposed on its licensees producing Roundup Ready cottonseed as a condition to its acquisition of Delta & Pine Land company.
"It is DuPont's belief that competition in the seed industry, U.S. growers, and ultimately, consumers, would be best served by a public policy that allows independent seed companies to assemble the best combinations of traits and germplasm for each of their customers. To that end, seed companies should be able to offer combinations of traits and germplasm without restrictions imposed by trait providers that attempt to limit those combinations,” says Borels.