ASUNCION Feb 19 A Paraguayan judge rejected on
Tuesday a request by soy farmers to block Monsanto Co
from collecting royalty payments for use of the biotech
company's Roundup Ready seeds in the world's fourth largest
In their request filed earlier this month, the farmers had
argued that the U.S. company's patent on the genetically
modified strain had expired. They were inspired by a case in
neighboring Brazil where a judge ordered Monsanto to stop
Paraguayan Judge Miguel Angel Rodas threw out the farmers'
request for urgent legal protection on the grounds that it was
inadmissible due to the complex nature of the dispute, court
documents showed. Another case requesting a similar intervention
by the courts was dismissed on the same grounds by a different
judge last week.
Monsanto charges farmers $4 per tonne of soybeans produced
using the Roundup Ready strain, which is resistant to
glyphosate-based herbicides and is present in about 95 percent
of the beans produced in the South American country.
The company has cited an agreement signed with farming
associations in 2004 that established payments for the use of
its seed technology.
It says the deal was meant to apply until 2014 and argues
that its royalty rights remain in place for as long as there are
valid patents on the technology anywhere in the world.
In the middle of the conflict, the government of President
Federico Franco authorized the sale of Monsanto's Intacta RR2
Pro seeds, which also help protect crops from caterpillars.
Monsanto has started negotiating with farmers to establish a
royalty payment system for the newly approved variety.
Paraguay trails far behind neighboring Brazil and Argentina
as a soy exporter, but production is growing steadily and
farmers are expected to gather a record crop of 8.4 million
tonnes this season thanks to favorable weather.