* French Farmers Criticize Ban on Seed
* Ban is not scientifically justified!
* GM Corn: A fine mess!
* Most French say GM crops should be authorised
* Europe stalls again on GM restrictions
* EU EFSA rejects caddisfly paper
* Food Safety Concerns Don't Include Biotech
* Supreme Court Backs Monsanto
* Excerpt: Monsanto v. McFarling
* Pakistan to introduce GM cottonseed
* Philippines to extend GM corn subsidy
* India develops transgenic tomato
* GM maize containing a milk protein
* Fluoro pig has green offspring
* Frankenstein foods are not monsters
French Farmers Criticize Ban on Monsanto's Corn Seed
- Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Jan. 12, 2007
France will use a ``safeguard clause'' to ban the cultivation of a genetically modified corn developed by Monsanto Co., a move that sparked criticism from farm lobbies and praise from environmental groups.
``Faced with the experts' uncertainty, I made a political decision,'' President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a speech in Paris today. ``It doesn't mean that France mustn't participate in research on GMOs, or that there is no future for'' genetically modified organisms.
Monsanto will consider all of its options, including legal remedies, said Monsanto spokesman Jonathan Ramsay, in a telephone interview today from Brussels.
``There is no basis whatsoever for invoking the European `safeguard clause,''' Ramsay said. ``Monsanto will defend our customers' right to choose.''
The decision, announced last night by Prime Minister Francois Fillon, was welcomed by environmental lobbies as well as farmer Jose Bove, who ended an eight-day hunger strike to push for a ban on the seeds following the government announcement, France Info reported.
'Surprising and Shocking'
``The government has kept its word and taken a responsible decision,'' an alliance of environmental organizations including Greenpeace said in a joint statement late yesterday. ``Doubts about the risks of MON810 are numerous.''
Jean-Michel Lemetayer, president of the FNSEA, or National Federation of Farm Unions, called Fillon's announcement ``surprising and shocking. The decision was very political to please a number of people including some on a hunger strike,'' he said on France Info radio.
France's watchdog on gene-altered foods ruled Jan. 9 that Monsanto's MON810 corn may have an impact on wildlife. A day later, Sarkozy said he would decide whether to use the safeguard clause based on the watchdog's findings, echoing remarks he made in October.
The safeguard procedure will remain in place until there is ``a re-evaluation by European authorities on the authorization of the sale of this GMO,'' Fillon's office said in an e-mailed statement last night.
Invoking a safeguard clause, if approved by the European Union, allows a member state to refuse the sale of a product permitted across the 27-nation bloc.
Resists Corn Borer
``Doubts about this GMO currently grown in France aren't a condemnation of the interest of this technology to overcome food and environmental challenges,'' the prime minister's statement said.
Some 22,000 hectares (54,340 acres) of the Monsanto biotech corn was cultivated in France last year, according to AGPM, a French association of corn growers. The strain is modified to resist the corn borer insect so the worm dies when it eats the plant.
``France can survive without GMOs, but it means we will protect our crops solely by chemical means and take the risk of depending on more imports in the future,'' Christophe Terrain, president of AGPM, told France Info radio today.
MON 810: the activation of a safeguard clause is not scientifically justified!
- AFIS web posting, Jan. 10, 2008
- Translation by AgBioView's European Correspondent of "Mon810 : l’activation de la clause de sauvegarde n’est pas scientifiquement justifiée !", Association Française pour l’Information Scientifique, http://nonaumoratoire.free.fr/communique20080110.pdf
In a very mediatic statement, the president of the "Committee for the formation of a high authority on GMOs" stated on 9 January 2008 that there were "a certain number of new scientific facts concerning the negative impact of MON 810 maize, resistant to the European corn borer, on fauna and flora". This precedes the activation of a safeguard clause and the establishment of a decree banning the planting of MON 810 maize as of 2008.
The French Association for Scientific Information (AFIS) wishes to express its surprise at this announcement, just as it already expressed its surprise at the statements of the President of the Republic during the closing of the "Grenelles de l'Environnement" with regard to the form, based on the use of inappropriate and biased wording, and the content, especially given the numerous scientific studies, French and international, which respond clearly and unambiguously to the questions asked.
After examining the opinion and having had contact with several scientists that participated in the meetings of the Committee, AFIS comes to the following conclusions:
- This opinion contains a list of data
- The data was not discussed scientifically
- No flaws are indicated in any of the arguments brought forward, even where the wording is approximate and the content is incomplete
- None of the arguments brought forward can be considered new or severe, justifying the activation of a safeguard clause
Concerning the conclusions that the political authorities believed they had to draw from the opinion for the press conference held January 9th, AFIS:
§ Denounces the confusion which is systematically maintained between "exposure" and "impact"
§ Notes that no new elements have been brought forward which would justify suspending cultivation of maize resistant to corn borers
§ Reaffirms that the scientific uncertainties on the safety of genetically modified maize in Europe are nothing but " imaginary, even deceitful, uncertainties both from an environmental as well as a food chain point of view"
§ Reaffirms that, without denying the importance of biovigilance when it comes to cultivating Bt maize varieties, wanting to prohibit the use of it by French farmers has no scientific justification whatsoever
§ Denounces the political instrumentalisation of the scientists appointed to take part in the "Committee of formation of a High Authority on GM products"
§ Will post on its website the letter which it addressed to the public authority on January 8th, together with the declaration "Why ban cultivation of GM maize?" supported by a thousand signatures, of which several hundred signatures of academics, researchers, doctors, joined by highly responsible farmers and agronomists.
§ Will post on its website the full text of the opinion by the Committee of formation of a High Authority on GM products and will add, progressively, summarized elements and clarifications necessary for citizens to be able to understand, in this way fulfilling its mission of scientific information
Having organized at the Senate on January 17th the colloquium " Sustainable Biotechnology and Agriculture", to which several scientists whose work was cited in the Opinion document of the Committee or who participated in the different meetings of the Committee will attend, AFIS will see to it that the sound scientific responses are duly reported and will make public the full summary of the colloquium in order to inform citizens prior to the examination of a proposition of law on biotechnology, to be submitted for examination by the National Representation.
Genetically modified Corn: A fine mess!
- Machine translation of "Maïs génétiquement modifié: Un beau gâchis!", Groupement National Interprofessionnel des Semences, Association des industries des semences de plantes oléagineuses, SEPROMA, and L’Union des Industries de la Protection des Plantes (press release), Jan. 12, 2008
The Government has just initiated the contradictory procedure in order to deposit a safeguard clause on the culture of a genetically modified corn, until the revaluation by the European authorities of the authorization of marketing of this GMO.
This decision is completely incomprehensible for the professionals of the seeds and the protection of the plants. As Philippe Gracien explains it, their spokesman: "It seems that the destiny of this corn was written as of the constitution of Grenelle of the Environment. It is a true underhand dealings: - for the farmers who lose a technology bringing of the proven benefit and whom proved reliable in France as in the world, - for the seed-bearer companies which do not have any more any visibility, - finally, for the system of operation of the European Union. It is a sad end for the process of Grenelle of the Environment which wanted to be exemplary.
The demagogy triumphed over the agricultural innovation which from now on, will be made without France."
For any additional information mercy contact Valerie Carlon: Tel.: 06 12 21 08 30; e-mail: email@example.com
Guest ed. note: France is in an uproar over the government's decision to ban MON810 using the European Union's 'safeguard clause.' Most of it is due to a statement issued by 12 of the 14 scientists who issued the report upon which the government based that decision. The scientists claim that the government completely misinterpreted their report. The press seems largely sympathetic to the claims of these scientists, and there appears to be substantial popular support for the technology as well (see below). Unfortunately, AgBioView has not yet been able to locate the text of the statement by the 12 scientists--but we'll keep looking.
52% of the French population believe that secured GM crops should be authorised so that French farmers can remain competitive
- The General Association of Maize Growers [AGPM - Association Générale des Producteurs de Maïs] (press release), Oct. 29, 2007
This was the finding of an exclusive survey conducted by CSA for the GNIS and AGPM on October 17 and 18, 2007, questioning a nationally representative sample of one thousand people.
The survey also showed that most French people are aware of the reasons for choosing to grow GM maize, and list them in order: "improved yield," "lower production costs", "better resistance to disease and parasites" and "reduced use of pesticides".
It should be noted that 24% of those questioned did not express an opinion, which supports the view that many people still need information on the issue of GMOs.
The survey shows that the French are fully aware of the risk of GM crops being torn up, with 62% agreeing with the statement that "a farmer growing GM maize runs the risk of having his field destroyed by anti-GM activists". And there are 50% who believe that the illegal attacks destroying trial plots and GM crops have deterred French researchers.
Why do farmers grow GM maize?
AGPM, France's association of maize producers, has also been surveying opinions, through the Kleffmann Institute, questioning farmers growing GM and non-GM maize. The survey was carried out in July 2007 and covered 234 maize-growers in the regions of Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrenees. This year, Bt maize has been grown over a total of 22 000 hectares, which means sufficient acreage and a sufficient number of farmers to collect the opinions of maize producers and to hear arguments of the farmers who chose to plant a Bt crop, despite strong pressure from GM opponents.
Reducing losses caused by parasite damage
It is not surprising to see that farmers choosing this protection are in maize-growing areas where there have been severe attacks by the corn borer and the stem borer. Resistance to corn borer and stem borer (53%) and resistance to lodging caused by insect damage (36%) are the main reasons given by farmers. They have also observed improved quality in the stem and see it as a way of avoiding losses when ears fall to the ground. Bt maize offers farmers a solution that is simpler and more effective than chemical and biological pesticides.
Producing better quality maize
Damage caused by corn borer and stem borer creates an environment where parasitic fungus develop on the ears, damaging the quality. But quality is what the maize sector is demanding, and constantly, particularly for animal feed.
48% of farmers growing Bt maize mentioned the improvement in the health of the plant and the kernels. The quality of the harvest also relates to the improvements in yield noted by 30% of farmers growing Bt maize. The increase in yield (an average of 15% for GM maize compared to conventional maize) is directly related to the level of parasite infestation of the crop.
Farmers therefore have both technical and financial arguments. They believe Bt maize is good for trading, for qualitative reasons ("as a response to the legislation on mycotoxins", "as a reliable and saleable product"), but also to respond to high market demand, mainly from Spain. 87% of GM maize-growers in 2006 sowed a GM crop again in 2007.
An ecological crop
Farmers believe that by growing Bt maize, they are helping protect the environment, by reducing the use of insecticides (for 21%), and also by economising on fuel with less movement of farm machinery in the field to tend the crop. They have also noted that Bt maize has no effect on auxiliary animal life.
Sharing experience: a key factor when making the choice
For farmers who had opted for a GM crop, the determining factor in making the decision was the visit to see a trial and to share the experience of a neighbouring farmer: this was reported by 33% of farmers, and for 28% there were discussions with their fellow maize producers. They also stated clearly that they wanted to make up their own minds for themselves (33%). For non-GM farmers, fear of social pressure was a factor that is a strong deterrent (for 30%). Nearly half of those questioned said it was a difficult subject to discuss.
And 63% of the maize-growers questioned maintained that the issue of GMOs is important.
Europe stalls again on ending GM restrictions
- Laura Crowley, Food Production Daily, Jan. 14, 2007
The European Commission has been given yet more time to bring member states in compliance with trade obligations on GM crops after failing to meet Friday's deadline, the same day France extended its GM ban. Officials at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) received a joint letter from Canadian and EU trade representatives in Geneva agreeing to extend the deadline for Brussels to make its member states conform to regulations.
A WTO panel decided in November 2005 that some European countries were breaking international trade rules by stopping the import of GM foods and crops, following a case brought by leading GMO producers Argentina, Canada and the US under claims that their farmers were losing millions because of the EU.
Member states ban GM
Austria enforced a ban on the import and processing of Monsanto's MON810 and Bayer's T25 maize in June 1999.
The Commission has been debating whether to force the country to lift its restrictions since 2005, as Austria has never produced the necessary scientific evidence to contest the positive assessment of the products by Europe's food safety authorities.
Last week, France complicated the matter when it chose to extend its temporary ban on the cultivation of MON810, applying the same EU measure by arguing the costs to health posed by GM crops.
The temporary ban had been put in place by President Sarkozy last October as part of plans to make France greener.
Deadline extended again
The Commission has indicated it needs more time to work with the member states to bring their national regulations in line with global trade laws.
The new deadline suggested by Canada is February 11. Meanwhile, Argentina will further extend the deadline to June 11 before considering action against Europe.
US officials have not yet said if it will also accept an extended deadline, or push for immediate sanctions.
Peter Power, Commission spokesperson for Trade, told FoodNavigator.com: "We are making progress as we continue to illustrate how our EU Regulatory Framework is working. However, it is clear that some difficulties remain."
The Commission biotech steering group will now meet on 24 January to further discuss the issues.
Bans affect US agriculture
"The EU moratorium has significantly reduced US exports of bulk commodities such as corn and soybeans into Europe," said Russel Williams, expert on biotechnology for the American Farm Bureau Federation.
"Europe has an obligation to comply with its trade obligations under the WTO and US producers remain frustrated that the EU has not yet done so. The US will remain adamant that Europe complies with its trade obligations regardless of these bans. What that means for Austria, France, Greece and others will be up to the Commission to decide."
Current GM cultivation in Europe
At the moment, the only type of GM crop grown in the EU is maize, which was approved in 1998. It is not cultivated for human consumption but for animal feed.
The maize contains a gene that defends the crop against the European corn borer, an insect pest that eats the stem, present primarily in southern and middle Europe but moving northwards.
One of the main concerns regarding GM crops is that pollination could cross-contaminate non-GM crops grown in the vicinity - and that ultimately the long-term health effects of GM on humans are not known.
Last year, over 110,000 hectares of biotech crops were harvested in seven EU member states, compared to 62,000 hectares in 2006. This represents a 77 per cent increase.
French GM crop cultivation experienced the greatest increase in Europe, quadrupling in size from 5,000 hectares in 1996 to over 21,000 hectares last year.
MINUTES OF THE 37TH PLENARY MEETING OF THE SCIENTIFIC PANEL ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS HELD ON 22-23 NOVEMBER 2007 IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (ADOPTED ON 18 DECEMBER 2007)
ANNEX: ANALYSIS BY THE GMO PANEL OF THE PNAS PUBLICATION OF ROSI-MARSHALL ET AL. 2007 "TOXINS IN TRANSGENIC CROP BYPRODUCTS MAY AFFECT HEADWATER STREAM ECOSYSTEMS"
The GMO Panel acknowledges that research is performed on this important issue as it can theoretically not be excluded that Lepidoptera-specific Cry1Ab protein may cause sub-lethal effects on Trichoptera as this insect order is closely related to the Lepidoptera order, at least more than to the order of Diptera.
There are some unclear points and weaknesses in the Rosi-Marshall et al. 2007 paper that might lead to very speculative conclusions: The authors measured degradation rates in aquatic systems and found no difference between Bt and non-Bt maize plant material. The amount of Cry1Ab protein in leaves and pollen was not measured, so no dose-response relationship with Bt protein can be made.
It is thus unclear whether degradation of Bt protein is equal to degradation of plant material. It would also be interesting to know whether degradation in headwater stream ecosystems is similar to - and as fast as - degradation in soil and hydroponic pond solution reported by Icoz and Stotzky 20079 [with Cry3bb], but no information is provided on the degradation of Bt proteins/plant material, neither on degradation in headwater streams ecosystem / in soil and hydroponic pond solution.
The identity of the Bt maize used in the feeding test is not clear (could be for example Bt11 or MON810 or others). This would have been very important background information. If the pollen had come from MON810, the yearly deposition would be approximately 9 - 90 ng Cry1Ab protein per m² (Nguyen and Jehle, 200610). It is considered that such a low dose is unlikely to cause a toxic effect.
No isogenic controls to compare with the GM material were used. The authors explain that they used controls with similar lignin and C/N ratio. No further details were given on nutritional equivalence of the maize material used.
There is no detailed information given on the amount of maize material fed to the test organisms: "Leaves were added to aquaria as needed".
The effects reported are relatively minor in comparison with known toxic chemicals. H. borealis had no significantly increased mortality when maize plant material was given. The only mortality effect was measured at a 2 - 3 fold above 'natural level' concentration of maize pollen.
There is no information on reproducibility of the feeding test. The EFSA GMO Panel is of the opinion that important background information on levels of exposure and plant material used is missing. The GMO Panel will ask the authors of the paper for further clarification.
In summary, the conclusions of the paper Rosi-Marshall et al. (2007) are not supported by the data presented in this paper. The GMO Panel is of the opinion that based on the available information such a low level of exposure to Trichoptera in aquatic ecosystems is unlikely to cause a toxic effect.
9 Icoz, I. and Stotzky G. (2007) Cry3Bb1 protein from Bacillus thuringiensis in root exudates and biomass of transgenic corn does not persist in soil. Transgenic Res. Sep 13; [Epub ahead of print].
10 Nguyen, H.T. and Jehle, J.A. (2006) Quantitative analysis of the seasonal and tissue-specific expression of Cry1Ab in transgenic maize Mon810. Journal of Plant Diseases and Protection, 114 (2), 82-87.
EFSA/GMO/380 - Minutes 37th Plenary Meeting of the GMO Panel [pp. 7-8]
Food Safety Concerns Do Not Include Biotechnology:
Public Less Wary of Animal Biotechnology
- International Food Information Council, Food Insight, November/December 2007
Despite a year of food safety concerns, consumer impressions of food biotechnology remain little changed from previous years. According to research from IFIC's 2007 survey Food Biotechnology: A Study of U.S. Consumer Trends, there was little change in the American public's perception of food biotechnology, and those who have an opinion are twice as likely to have favorable-as opposed to unfavorable-impressions.
The survey provides valuable insight into consumer trends by tracking familiarity and perceptions of food biotechnology over time. IFIC has conducted this survey for a decade, adding new questions as science and trends change. This year, in light of increased focus on sustainable food production, several questions on awareness and importance of sustainability were also included.
The survey of 1,000 American adults took place in July 2007, and data were weighted by age and education to be nationally representative.
Overall confidence in the food supply remained at a high level with 69 percent of Americans indicating they were "very" or "somewhat" confident in the food supply compared to 72 percent last year. However, the number of Americans selecting "very confident" decreased from 21 percent in 2006 to 15 percent this year.
Due to this high level of confidence, a sizeable number of Americans (25 percent) cited no particular food safety concern. Of the three-quarters of respondents who listed a specific food safety concern, disease and contamination topped the list at 38 percent; however, the biggest increase was in the "source" category, where concern about products' origin caused this category to rise from six percent of those citing a specific concern with the food supply in 2006 to 20 percent this year.
Less than one percent mentioned food biotechnology as a specific concern. "The public's attitudes about food biotechnology remained constant despite a year of tremendous media attention on food concerns," said IFIC President and CEO David Schmidt. In fact, overall favorable impressions of plant biotechnology remained little changed in the past year and favorable impressions of animal biotechnology increased from 19 percent in 2006 to 24 percent this year.
Satisfaction with current information on food labels also remained high in 2007. Only 16 percent of consumers felt information was missing, with less than one percent specifically mentioning biotechnology. When informed that FDA requires special labeling only when the use of biotechnology introduces an allergen or when it substantially changes the food's nutritional content, well over half of those polled (61 percent) "strongly" or "somewhat" support the FDA labeling requirements for food produced using biotechnology, while 24 percent were "neutral." This was unchanged from last year's survey.
Findings on animal biotechnology showed nearly half of Americans (46 percent) said they were "somewhat" or "very" likely to buy meat, milk, and eggs from cloned animals if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined they were safe. When the exact same question was asked regarding animals enhanced through "genetic engineering" rather than "cloning," the number of Americans who were "very" or "somewhat" likely to buy these food products jumped to 61 percent, showing that the terminology used to describe foods produced from biotechnology makes a difference. Both of these figures show an increase from the 2006 survey.
Consumer support continues to correlate with increased awareness about the potential positive impacts of animal biotechnology. Two-thirds of consumers (66 percent) said they had a positive impression of animal biotechnology when informed that "animal biotechnology can improve the quality and safety of food," up from 59 percent in 2006. More than half of Americans (53 percent) reacted positively to the statement "animal biotechnology can increase farm efficiency," up from 36 percent in 2005 and 47 percent in 2006.
Another area of interest in this year's survey included the new addition of questions about sustainable food production. Although Americans use a variety of terms to describe "sustainability," 83 percent equate the term to "long-lasting" or "self-sufficiency." Close to three-quarters of Americans (70 percent), however, say they have heard "nothing" about sustainable food production. When sustainability was defined as a method to "operate in a manner which does not jeopardize the availability of resources for future generations," 63 percent of Americans said they thought it was important. When consumers were asked to rank five factors related to growing crops in a sustainable way, the factor ranked number one was "increasing the production of food staples in the world, thereby reducing world hunger," with "reducing the amount of pesticides needed to produce food" coming in second. Other eco-friendly factors like rainforest conservation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions received lower rankings.
For a copy of the Food Biotechnology report visit: http://www.ific.org/research/biotechres.cfm.
Supreme Court Backs Monsanto In Seed Patent Case
Justices uphold lower appeals court ruling in dispute over reuse of patented biotech seeds
- Glenn Hess, Chemical & Engineering News/American Chemical Society, Jan. 9, 2008
The Supreme Court, without comment, ruled in favor of Monsanto on Jan. 7 and upheld a lower court ruling that penalized a Mississippi farmer for reusing genetically modified soybean seeds.
Monsanto was awarded $375,000 in damages after successfully suing Homan McFarling in 1999 for violating its patents by replanting Roundup Ready soybean seeds.
McFarling saved 1,500 bushels of seeds from his 1998 soybean crop and planted those seeds in 1999. He did the same thing the following year, saving soybeans from his 1999 crop and planting them in 2000.
Monsanto sued, arguing that a technology agreement the farmer signed restricted him to using the seeds for only one growing season. McFarling's lawyers argued that patent law does not allow Monsanto "to control the future use of seeds that were a natural product of the seeds that he had bought and planted."
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., sided with Monsanto, ruling that the "the licensed and patented product (the first-generation seeds) and the goods made by the licensed product (the second-generation seeds) are nearly identical copies."
The Supreme Court's affirmation of the lower court rulings helps ensure "continued investment into the kind of research and development necessary to keep growers on the cutting edge of productivity," Monsanto said in a statement.
"We believe strong intellectual property protection will encourage the investment needed to maintain continued crop improvement," the company stated.
Monsanto Company v. Homan McFarling
- Judge Catherine D. Perry, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (05-1570, -1598), May 24, 2007
The jury returned a damages verdict of $40 per bag of saved seed, well in excess of the $6.50 per bag for which Mr. McFarling had argued, but substantially less than the $80.65 per bag (for 1999) and $73.20 per bag (for 2000) urged by Monsanto based on the analysis of its expert. Mr. McFarling again moved to limit the damages award to what he contended was Monsanto's $6.50 per bag established royalty for use of its patented technology. The district court denied the motion, adopted the jury's verdict, and awarded Monsanto approximately $375,000 in damages. The district court also permanently enjoined Mr. McFarling from future unauthorized use of the patented technology.
Mr. McFarling asserts that the "unpatented germ plasm and second generation of genetically-altered soybeans is not a 'human-made' invention." But the fact that the germ plasm and the soybeans are not "human-made" is irrelevant to infringement. What is human-made are the chimeric genes claimed in the '605 patent, which are found in all of the infringing seeds at issue in this case. The principles of patent law do not cease to apply when patentable inventions are incorporated within living things, either genetically or mechanically.
Monsanto in effect decided that under its standard licensing program it would extract $6.50 in direct payment and would also extract an undertaking to buy seed from a seed company, which imposed an additional cost of $19 to $22 per bag on the farmers. The fact that Monsanto elected to allocate its licensing fees by obtaining a direct payment of $6.50 and ensuring a payment to the seed companies of another $19 to $22 does not mean that the royalty for its standard license was only $6.50. It means that, for a variety of economic reasons, Monsanto decided to split the royalty up into two parts and to direct part of the royalty to the third-party seed companies, which promoted and distributed Monsanto's products. The out-of-pocket cost that the farmers paid for the right to use Monsanto's technology was thus $25.50 to $28.50. In effect, the amount of that cost that can be characterized as a pure royalty payment was $25.50 to $28.50 minus the modest cost of cleaning and bagging the seeds and other transaction costs. Picking $6.50 as the upper limit for the reasonable royalty would create a windfall for infringers like McFarling. Such infringers would have a huge advantage over other farmers who took the standard Monsanto license and were required to comply with the provisions of the license, including the purchase-of-seed and non-replanting provisions.
Monsanto's evidence at trial showed that the requirement that farmers purchase their seed each year instead of saving seed from the previous year had particular benefits to Monsanto above and beyond the monetary payments represented by the Technology Fee and the seed prices charged by the seed companies. Monsanto's experts testified that the no-saving-seed requirement (1) decreased the risk of underreporting and the consequent reputation harm to Monsanto with farmers, (2) ensured Monsanto's knowledge of the quality of seed planted each year, and (3) provided a bargaining chip for signing up new seed companies. It is difficult to assign a dollar value to those benefits, but the benefits nonetheless justify the jury's finding that a reasonable royalty for a license to engage in conduct like Mr. McFarling's would exceed the amount of the payments made by farmers who participated in the licensing program. In determining the amount of a reasonable royalty, it was proper for the jury to consider not only the benefits of the licensing program to Monsanto, but also the benefits that Monsanto's technology conferred on farmers such as Mr. McFarling.
Monsanto's expert testified at length regarding the valuation of Monsanto's damages. He began by estimating the value conferred on a farmer such as Mr. McFarling by the use of the Roundup Ready product. Because using conventional soybeans was the most logical alternative to either licensing or infringing, that value provided a reasonable basis for estimating the advantages conferred by the use of the patented technology. The expert testified that the use of Roundup Ready seeds increased the yield of soybeans in an amount valued at $14 to $25 per acre as compared to conventional 05-1570,-1598 12 seeds. In addition, the expert testified that the use of Roundup Ready seeds reduced the costs of weed control in an amount valued at $26 to $36 per acre as compared to conventional seeds; he based that estimate on three studies that showed cost savings for the Roundup Ready system ranging from a low of $17 to a high of $36. Even using the lowest dollar amount disclosed in any of the studies as the minimum amount for savings on weed control ($17), and even disregarding the expert's testimony about other possible savings associated with the use of the Roundup Ready system, those two items alone result in an estimated savings of $31 to $61 per acre as compared to conventional seeds. Given that one 50-pound bag of seed is sufficient to plant about an acre of farmland, the savings of $31 to $61 per acre was equivalent to a savings of $31 to $61 per bag of seed. Based on those advantages alone, it was reasonable for the jury to suppose that, in a hypothetical negotiation, a purchaser would pay a royalty of $40 per bag for the Roundup Ready seed. The jury's verdict was therefore justified even without considering some of the other more sharply controverted aspects of the expert's valuation opinion, such as his use of a multiplier to account for the risks to Monsanto from infringement by farmers.
Govt to introduce genetically modified cottonseed in 2009
Bt cottonseed has an inbuilt capacity to destroy pests
- Atif Khan, Daily Times (Pakistan), Jan. 9, 2007