(Recasts, updates with USDA comment)
By Carey Gillam
KANSAS CITY Jan 8 DuPont (DD.N) on Friday
asked U.S. regulators to rein in practices by seed industry
leader Monsanto Co, claiming its rival is hindering competition
and limiting innovation needed to feed a growing world
DuPont, which owns Pioneer Hi-Bred International, said
Monsanto (MON.N) is unfairly using monopoly powers to drive up
prices and stymie competition.
"Monsanto has engaged in numerous practices that improperly
seek to expand the scope of intellectual property rights at the
expense of competition, innovation, and choice," DuPont said in
The company submitted its 18-page report of allegations to
the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture in advance of a
public hearing on competition and antitrust concerns in the
seed industry slated for March.
Monsanto officials declined to comment, but the St.
Louis-based company filed its own comments with regulators last
month, arguing that such allegations are unjustified.
Monsanto, which commercialized the world's first biotech
crop in 1996, said there is ample competition, with a broad
array of seed product choices and prices across all crops.
DuPont is Monsanto's chief rival in the highly profitable
U.S. biotech seed arena, and the two are currently suing each
other over over a soured licensing deal.
DuPont's report said Monsanto has a monopoly in soybean and
corn traits -- genetics that help crops fight off pests and
withstand weed-killing treatments. It said Monsanto coerces
seed dealers, farmers and others into arrangements that
perpetuate a reliance on high-priced Monsanto products.
DuPont estimates that Monsanto, through its branded
products and licensing, has 98 percent of the U.S. soybean
market, 79 percent of the corn market and 60 percent of the
corn and soy germplasm licensed in the United States.
"The ag biotech trait market is firmly in the grip of a
single supplier, acting as a bottleneck to competition and
choice... it also threatens the global goals for agriculture in
the 21st Century doubling the world's food supply by 2050," the
DuPont report said.
Monsanto's report, filed last month with USDA and the
Justice Department, denied anti-competitive conduct.
"We're confident an objective review will reveal
competition is alive and flourishing in the seed market,"
Monsanto pegs market share for its branded corn seed at
about 36 percent; branded soy seed at 29 percent share; and
cotton at 41 percent in the United States.
Monsanto said in its comments to regulators that last year
there were 4,381 corn hybrids, including both biotech and
non-biotech hybrids, and 2,126 varieties of soybean seed
available to U.S. farmers.
"No single company has a dominant share of seed sales in
corn, soybean or cotton," Monsanto said.
The U.S. Justice and Agriculture departments will be
holding five hearings later this year to discuss fair play and
concentration in agricultural marketing.
Caleb Weaver, USDA's press secretary, did not directly
address the DuPont and Monsanto case but said about 15,000
public comments will be reviewed to "ensure that the upcoming
workshops with DOJ adequately address the important competition
issues affecting the agriculture industry."
The Justice Department would not comment Friday.
(Additional reporting by Diane Bartz and Christopher Doering
in Washington; Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by David