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ASUNCION, March 27 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co has agreed to waive the collection of royalties for the use of technology for RoundUp Ready soybeans in Paraguay starting next year, the South American country's main farm groups said on Wednesday.
Monsanto representatives were not immediately available to comment on the deal, which would end a months-long spat between the company and growers in the world's No. 4 soybean exporter.
"We managed to agree on a process that allows Paraguayan growers an orderly transition from the use of Roundup Ready RR1 soybean technology to new RR2 technology," said a statement from the Farmers' Trade Union signed by four other industry groups.
The biotech company 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 had cited an agreement signed with farming associations in 2004 that established payments for the use of its seed technology.
It has long said the deal was meant to apply until 2014 and 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 dispute, the government of President Federico Franco authorized the sale of Monsanto's Intacta RR2 Pro seeds, which also help protect crops from caterpillars.
A Paraguayan judge last month rejected a request by soy farmers to block Monsanto from collecting royalty payments for use of Roundup Ready seeds. The growers 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 charging.