Monsanto announced on May 5 it filed suit against chemical giant DuPont alleging infringement of its patents for "Roundup Ready" herbicide-resistant crops. The suit filed in federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, names EI du Pont de Nemours and Company and its subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred International for "unlawful use of Monsanto's proprietary Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant technologies in soybeans and corn."
"As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," said Hugh Grant, Monsanto's chief executive. "However, unlawfully taking technology is neither imitation nor flattery; it is unethical and wrong. A true technology company respects patents and its contractual agreements and delivers new products through its own innovation and honest collaboration. DuPont has failed on all counts."
Monsanto claimed that Pioneer publicly touted plans to replace Monsanto's Roundup Ready trait with DuPont's own system called Optimum GAT. But it said that to repair "deficiencies," Pioneer is "misusing the Roundup Ready trait."
DuPont said that Monsanto "is trying to deny farmers access to alternative technologies at a time when farmers are struggling with weeds that are increasingly resistant to current Monsanto products."
"Monsanto has a long history of using litigation and aggressive tactics to preserve their monopoly and attempt to intimidate customers, seed partners and competitors," said James Borel, DuPont vice president. He argued that DuPont's soybeans "are better products, and we believe our customers should have the right to plant them."
A key Monsanto technology involves genetically modified crops that are resistant to herbicides such as Roundup. This boosts crop yields by allowing farmers to use the herbicide without damaging crops, but the practice has drawn fire from environmentalists and is banned in some countries.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009