* Mato Grosso producers will continue to fight in court
* Monsanto introducing new soybean technology in Brazil
* 90 pct of Brazilian soybeans are genetically modified
By Caroline Stauffer
Jan 23 Monsanto Co and Brazil's National
Confederation of Agriculture (CNA) said on Wednesday they had
reached an agreement to end a dispute over royalty payments on
seed technology in one of the company's largest growth markets.
But two producing groups in top soybean growing state Mato
Grosso, where farmers are challenging Monsanto in local courts,
said they did not accept the agreement.
As the world increasingly turns to South America for grains
to feed a growing population, producers are becoming more
reliant on genetically modified seeds and biotechnology, leading
to conflicts over who reaps the ultimate profit.
Producers in 10 Brazilian states, but not Mato Grosso,
accepted Monsanto's proposal in exchange for the suspension of
royalties charged on Roundup Ready 1 soybeans starting with the
current 2012/13 harvest, according to the CNA.
Farmers accepting St. Louis-based Monsanto's agreement
account for 70 percent of producers in Brazil, the Confederation
said in a statement.
"Those farmers will be released from payment of technology
royalty fees for first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans for
this and next season, while waiving all potential legal claims
for payments previously made for this first-generation
technology," Monsanto said in a separate statement.
In return, the farmers will secure licenses to purchase new
soybean technology, known as Intacta RR2 Pro. Unlike Roundup
Ready 1 technology, Intacta RR2 Pro offers protection against
caterpillars that attack soybeans in Brazil.
Monsanto sells only a handful of products in Brazil, one of
only a few countries with room to expand agricultural output,
due in part to the long wait periods needed to obtain licenses.
Roundup Ready 1 soybeans are widely planted in Brazil, while
second generation Intacta seeds are currently in a test phase.
The new seeds have not been approved by China, which
purchases around 70 percent of Brazil's soybeans, though other
importers have given them the green light.
Mato Grosso's state soy association Aprosoja and its
powerful farming and ranching federation Famato issued a joint
statement on Wednesday saying they rejected the agreement and
will continue to pursue legal action against Monsanto.
Producers in Mato Grosso are still paying royalties on
Roundup Ready technology, but the funds will not be released to
Monsanto while the judicial process is ongoing.
Monsanto could eventually face losses if it is made to
return royalties it charged farmers after 2010, when the groups
say Monsanto's patent on Roundup Ready 1 expired in Brazil.
Monsanto says the patent expires in 2014.
Biotechnology has helped boost volumes in Brazil's corn and
soybean crops in recent years. Genetically modified seeds now
account for almost 90 percent of all soybeans planted in the
country as it makes a bid to surpass the United States as the
world's top grower of the oilseed.