Recent articles (see here, here and here) have discussed patent expiration for Roundup Ready® soybeans. In light of these articles and ongoing interest in the subject, the timing seems right to remind readers of our post-patent plans.
The last Monsanto-owned patent for Roundup Ready soybeans will expire in 2014, and the last applicable third-party patent will expire in early 2015. That means independent seed companies will no longer owe trait royalty payment to Monsanto beginning in 2015. Farmers will have access to a generic trait offering beginning in the 2015 planting season.
Monsanto has had numerous discussions with farmers and agriculture trade groups in outlining our commitments to enable a clear pathway for a generic version of the first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans to be available after 2014. For example, the American Soybean Association, after considerable discussions with Monsanto, provided an update to their members in its October 2010 newsletter. As 2014 nears, we’ll continue having conversations with our agricultural stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition.
Here is what Monsanto has stated as its commitments to agriculture as the first-generation Roundup Ready patent approaches expiration:
• In the spring of 2015, there will be an opportunity for farmers to plant first-generation Roundup Ready seed saved from their 2014 harvest. This will be the case for Monsanto-developed varieties with the first-generation Roundup Ready trait because Monsanto has announced that it will not enforce its variety patents against U.S. farmers who choose to save and replant those varieties on their own farms after expiration of the trait patents. For varieties developed by other breeders, farmers should check with their local seed suppliers regarding any policy related to those seed companies’ seed varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait after patent expiry.
• We’ll maintain full global regulatory support for this first-generation technology through 2021, allowing for continued, uninterrupted exports of soybeans containing the first-generation Roundup Ready trait. We will continue to monitor and assess the planned use of this first-generation technology following patent expiration and work with appropriate stakeholders. The Biotechnology Industry Organization and the American Seed Trade Association are working to create seed industry standards to support a formal path to post-patent transitions and regulatory support for all traits.
• Because Roundup Ready soybeans are broadly licensed, all seed companies that currently sell the first-generation Roundup Ready trait will have the option of selling it in 2015. They will be assessing farmer interest and their own business opportunity.
• Licenses for the patent already run through the expiration of the patents. Interested seed company licensees will continue working with their first-generation Roundup Ready soybean products after the license and patents expire.
• Seed company licensees that choose to work with Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® technology will be able to continue to sell varieties with the first-generation Roundup Ready trait. There is no need for them to stop selling the Roundup Ready trait in order to sell the new trait. They can offer the first-generation trait, the newer Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait, both or neither trait, if they so desire.
• Universities will also be able to offer soybean varieties containing the Roundup Ready trait. A number of universities have been breeding with the Roundup Ready soybean trait for a number of years, and they will be able to continue this both now and following expiration of the patent.
We welcome any questions and comments farmers and stakeholders may have related to patent expiration. For more information on the patent expiration on Roundup Ready soybeans, please visit the Monsanto web site.