BUENOS AIRES, May 19 (Reuters) - Argentina’s Agriculture Ministry is creating a registry that will track the amount of genetically modified soybean seeds reaped from farmers’ crops in order to crack down on the illegal resale of seeds developed by Monsanto Co.
The ministry on Tuesday maintained its stance that farmers should only have to pay Monsanto once, at the time of purchase, for the seeds, but the registry represents a halfway measure to try and prevent farmers from selling the genetically modified seeds generated from their crops.
Monsanto has wanted farmer to pay a royalty if seeds carrying the company’s Intacta technology are obtained from prior harvests.
Under the new registry, farmers will also have to declare how much of the seeds they replant and how much they kept aside, the ministry said on Tuesday,
Monsanto has previously said that the repeated use of seeds without payment each crop cycle denies the company a return on its investment in the Intacta technology, which carries a gene that protects the bean against crop-devouring worms.
The company has also said that uncertified seeds are sold on the black market, depriving it of revenue. Monsanto said on Tuesday it welcomed the government’s recognition of an underground market place for its seeds.
Soy export companies in Argentina began in April inspecting cargoes for bootlegged biotechnology at the behest of the U.S. seed maker, raising raised tensions with farmers who object to Monsanto’s demand they pay a royalty on seeds obtained from prior harvests.
Argentina’s Agricultural Ministry on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to such royalties.
“There should not be two property right claims on the same benefit,” Agriculture Minister Carlos Casamiquela said in a statement.
The Agriculture Ministry added that a fund would be created “to finance the development of biotechnology in the country.”
A source in the Agriculture Ministry involved in the negotiations with Monsanto said the country’s largest producers would pay contributions to this fund, but stopped short of saying whether the money would ultimately end up with Monsanto.
“We are going to create a royalty payment for the biggest producers. They will have to pay for the use of seeds they produce,” the ministry source said.
The ministry’s statement said details would be published in the government’s official bulletin in the coming days.
Argentina’s 2014/15 soybean harvest will hit a record 60 million tonnes, the Buenos Aires grains exchange forecasts. (Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Leslie Adler)