Workshop On Ag Competition Held

The American Soybean Association (ASA) participated in a panel discussion last week on the competitive dynamics of the seed industry during a public workshop exploring competitive issues in agriculture hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA. The panel explored the competitive implications for farmers of significant shifts in the seed industry during the past 20 years in terms of seed price, choice, patents and licensing, and innovation at a workshop held at the Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, IA.

For soybeans, corn, cotton, and canola, farmers overwhelmingly have moved from using conventional seed varieties to seed with biotech-enhanced traits that help farmers better manage weeds and pests that reduce yields. Additionally, biotech-enhanced traits that improve the nutrition of crops or provide other consumer benefits are being introduced. Trait research and development increasingly has moved from numerous and diverse entities such as universities and independent seed companies toward major agriculture biotechnology firms that sell seed through their own brands or enter into license agreements with other seed companies. Patents covering the first commercially valuable agriculture biotechnology traits will expire in the coming years, raising questions about how the marketplace will handle the approaching transition to seed containing generic versions of those traits.

“Technology and continued innovation in the seed industry are vital to the future survival of farming as a viable career and to allowing farmers to feed a hungry world,” says ASA vice president Ray Gaesser, a soybean producer from Corning, IA, and a director and past president of the Iowa Soybean Association. “ASA believes that intellectual property protection and rewarding innovation is critical to maintaining the growth and development of the soybean industry. Over 25 different biotech or new novel traits for soybeans are in the pipeline to be commercialized over the next decade due to strong intellectual property protection and adequate returns on investment to innovators.”

“While supporting innovation, ASA also supports competition in all sectors of U.S. agriculture in order to enhance efficiency and reduce costs to soybean producers,” Gaesser says. “As we have examined issues around seed industry innovation and competition, there is uncertainty in the marketplace surrounding the process to ensure that foreign registrations for biotech traits are maintained once they go off-patent and become generic, uncertainty on access to data packages for stacks containing patented traits, and uncertainty on the terms of licensing agreements and potential restrictions contained within those agreements. This uncertainty needs to be solved, or else soybean farmers fear that both innovation and competition may suffer.”

ASA has expressed concerns arising from the approaching expiration of the first patents for agriculture biotechnology traits and the potential negative impact on soybean and soybean product exports in the event that foreign registrations of biotech traits are not maintained in countries that require them. Additionally, ASA has stated that it desires generic competition to flourish and seed prices to farmers to decline once the patents on patented traits expire.

“The first commercial soybean trait patent to expire will be for Roundup Ready Soybeans (RR1) in 2014, and patents on other soybean biotech traits will be expiring thereafter,” Gaesser says. “No industry, statutory or regulatory process currently is in place to facilitate the continued registration of ag biotech traits in key export markets after patent expiration. ASA favors an equitable industry-led approach to maintaining the registration of generic traits, or a statutory or regulatory approach if an equitable industry-led approach cannot be agreed upon. Such a process is essential in maintaining market access and competition as long as traces of a trait are identified in export shipments.”

There are multiple implications of patent expiration for international trade, including uncertainty about the process to maintain registrations in foreign markets. Soybean producers have learned that once an ag biotech trait is commercialized, it will be detectable for many years after registration is discontinued. Additionally, seed companies and plant breeders interested in offering generic versions of a trait after patent expiration need to know the process and cost of maintaining foreign registrations if they are to dedicate the time, money, and germplasm necessary to bring high-yielding seed varieties to the marketplace.

“ASA also supports enabling trait providers and seed companies to access and use, through agreements or other procedures that provide fair compensation, the data packages of a patented biotech trait for the purpose of preparing to register and commercialize seeds containing “stacks” of new biotech traits along with traits already commercialized,” Gaesser says. “ASA again supports and prefers a private sector approach to facilitate and govern this process. However, if an industry-led approach cannot be agreed upon, then a Federal government approach may be necessary to ensure that both innovation and competition are facilitated.”

“Finally, while license agreements are a common business practice and licensing in the seed industry has made new traits broadly available throughout the seed industry to farmers, it must be ensured that provisions in license agreements do not inhibit competition and continued innovation,” Gaesser concludes. “We need to support innovation, patent rights, and returns on investment, while allowing competition in both generic traits and new traits to thrive. Farmers and all of society benefit when we achieve this balance.”

At the request of the DOJ and USDA, ASA submitted comments in December 2009 expressing specific interest in competition in the seed, rail and fertilizer industries.

Four additional ag competitiveness workshops are scheduled during 2010 to discuss topics within the poultry, dairy, and livestock industries, and to look at discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers.

To learn more about the pipeline of biotech events and novel trait releases, click here.

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by over 22,500 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon Inspired Solution
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
StewardshipBayer Entomologist Issues Statement On Annual Honeybee Losses
May 13, 2015
Richard (Dick) Rogers, Principal Scientist / Entomologist, Bayer Bee Care Center for Bayer CropScience LP, today issued the following statement Read More
Monsanto Sign
Eric SfiligojThe Cat & Mouse Game Between Syngenta And Monsanto Begins
May 11, 2015
Last week, I talked about how two crop protection industry giants, Syngenta and Monsanto, had engaged in some acquisition discussions. Read More
Syngenta
Eric SfiligojWill Monsanto And Syngenta Combine This Time?
May 4, 2015
Under the heading of “never say never,” it sounds as if crop protection/seed giants Monsanto Co. and Syngenta are once Read More
Top 100 Articles
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manufacturer Kay-Flo
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
CropLife 100North Central Farmers Elevator, Wheat Growers Unification Approved By Board, Still Awaits Member Approval
May 13, 2015
The Boards of Directors for North Central Farmers Elevator (NCFE) and Wheat Growers (WG) have voted to approve the Unification Read More
CropLife 100AgGateway’s Barcoding Initiative Progressing Nicely
May 8, 2015
According to legend (or Wikipedia), the first step towards modern bar codes came back in 1948, when Bernard Silver, a Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Acquires Minnesota Retailer
April 14, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC, ranked No. 6 on the CropLife 100,  has successfully acquired Liebl Ag, LLC in Ada, MN.  Read More
CropLife 100CHS, Aurora Cooperative Complete Fertilizer Storage, Grain Shuttle Loading Facility
April 13, 2015
CHS Inc., the nation’s leading cooperative and ranked No. 5 on the CropLife 100, and Aurora Cooperative (ranked No. 21) Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Acquires Missouri Refined Fuels Terminal
April 2, 2015
Bloomington, IL-based GROWMARK and Magellan Pipeline Co. have entered into an agreement in which GROWMARK will acquire the refined fuels Read More
Latest News
Waterhemp in soybean stubble
HerbicidesEPA Signs Off On Monsanto’s Warrant Ultra Premix
May 27, 2015
Soybean and cotton growers looking for new tools to manage weeds will have a new, first-of-its-kind option in 2016 with Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesSTUDY: Weed Diversity Primarily Influenced By Geography
May 27, 2015
The potential long-term impacts of glyphosate-resistant crops on biodiversity of the agricultural landscape have been the subject of controversy. A Read More
Seed/BiotechAgrilead Forms Distribution Alliance With Kansas-Based …
May 27, 2015
Agrilead, Inc. announces the formation of a strategic alliance with KALO, Inc. of Overland Park, KS. Through the alliance, KALO Read More
EquipmentPrecision Tank Announces A&B Welding Acquisition
May 27, 2015
Precision Tank, a specialized tank and equipment manufacturer, announced today the acquisition of A&B Welding of Thompson, IA, a manufacturer Read More
Allied Cooperative Grain Plant
ManagementTraining Program Gives First Responders Skills For Grai…
May 27, 2015
When stored grain forms hard bridges, columns and other irregularities, those working to correct it find themselves at risk of Read More
Industry NewsBASF Sponsors Space Farming Research Project
May 26, 2015
Is it possible to produce large quantities of high quality vegetables on a space station, about 320 kilometers away from Read More
FertilizerTexas Ammonium Nitrate Bill Passes Senate, Heads To Gov…
May 26, 2015
The Texas State Senate gave final approval last Thursday to new regulations for ammonium nitrate, reports The Dallas Morning News Read More
Young corn plants
Industry NewsArysta Europe Details New Organizational Structure
May 26, 2015
Arysta LifeScience Europe recently announced a new organizational structure to leverage its scale and accelerate the company’s growth in this Read More
Syngenta Sign
Eric SfiligojMonsanto-Syngenta Could Hinge On A Judgment Of Solomon …
May 26, 2015
In the bible, the reputation of King Solomon’s wisdom in matters of despite comes from a tale of one child Read More
ManagementA New Sprayer Company & UAV Research In The Spotlig…
May 21, 2015
CropLife’s Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about a Dutch sprayer manufacturer entering the U.S. with a super-sized entry and Read More
HerbicidesFirst U.S. Sale Of Enlist Duo Herbicide Made By Dow Agr…
May 21, 2015
Dow AgroSciences has recorded the first U.S. sale of Enlist Duo herbicide with Colex-D Technology. This marks the first commercial Read More
CropLife 100The Andersons Acquires South Dakota Plant Nutrient Manu…
May 20, 2015
The Andersons, Inc., ranked No. 22 on the CropLife 100, has purchased Kay Flo Industries of North Sioux City, SD. “This Read More
EquipmentNORAC Options Coming To TerraGator
May 19, 2015
Utilizing NORAC’s Standard Control technology, boom height control is now available for TerraGators with Airmax Precision 2 and Benson Booms. This Read More
Crop InputsHelena Introduces New Soil Health Product
May 19, 2015
Helena Chemical Co. is helping agricultural producers maximize yields and efficiency with the introduction of Liquid Chisel, a new product Read More
Stewardship4R Nutrient Management Planning Certification Now Avail…
May 19, 2015
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) program announce a new specialty certification in Read More
Environmental Defense Fund logo
Paul SchrimpfEnvironmental Defense Fund: Appreciating Partners
May 19, 2015
I WAS deep in the throes of preparation for the Commodity Classic meeting that took place this past February, trying Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
May 19, 2015
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Syngenta Sign
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Responds To Lawyer’s Victory Claim In Vi…
May 18, 2015
A plaintiff’s lawyer has issued a public statement claiming that damages have been awarded in the Agrisure Viptera corn lawsuits Read More