Monsanto and Syngenta make peace over soy technology

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Monsanto, Seed, Soybean

Agro-chemical giant Monsanto has ended a long-running dispute with
Syngenta over soy and corn seeds by entering into a licensing
agreement that will allow its Swiss rival to use its technology in
its soy seed activities.

In return, Monsanto will license Syngenta's technology that builds crop resistance to the herbicide Dicamba. Syngenta has also withdrawn antitrust and infringement cases against Monsanto related to Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant and insect-protected corn technologies as well as herbicide-tolerant soybean technology. Monsanto's soy crop yield-boosting technology, Roundup Ready 2, is key to the deals. Almost 90 percent of US soybean fields and 60 percent of international soybean fields were planted with Roundup Ready soybeans in 2005, but Roundup Ready 2 promises greater yields. "With Syngenta's agreement to terms for a Roundup Ready 2 Yield license, Monsant estimates a potential available acreage for the product of 45 million to 55 million acres in the United States, or an increase of more than 10 percent over its original projection of 40 million to 50 million acres,"​ Monsanto said.​ Syngenta's soy brands represent about 12 percent of US soybean sales in 2007. Monsanto's Asgrow and American Seeds Inc. brands accounted for 27 percent of the market. Monsanto said Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans would be introduced on 1-2 million acres for 2009 "as part of a controlled commercial Release". ​ A large-scale product launch of 5-6 million acres was slated for 2010. "Roundup Ready 2 Yield will be the first of four game-changing technologies that Monsanto plans to bring to farmers between now and the middle of the next decade,"​ said Brett Begemann, executive vice president of Monsanto's global commercial business. "Roundup Ready 2 Yield will be the new platform in soybeans, and can provide farmers with yield gains that have never been seen before in this crop. In the future, this product will also serve as Monsanto's base technology for the next wave of soybean traits that enhance oil content or take yields to higher levels."​ Monsanto spent four years developing the technology and it estimates the technology will provide 7-11 percent yield gains compared to soy grown using its predecessor, Roundup Ready. The two companies also agreed to "cross-enable each other"​ to develop herbicide-tolerant and insect-protection products in corn, cotton and soy. "We're pleased that we were able to work with Syngenta to put farmercustomers first and reach an agreement that offers them tremendous benefits and choice in the seasons ahead,"​ Begemann said. "Our goal is to be the technology collaborator of choice within the agricultural industry."

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