Friday, 12 March 2010
Anyone who has been following the fortunes of biotech companies associated with genetically modified seed will recall Monsanto & Co's oft repeated claim that it's really in the business of feeding the world and not the simple pursuit of profit.
Once more in 2010 this monopolisitic multinational's actions give lie to the PR spin, as it is discovered trying to assert royalty rights over Cefetra's imported animal feed product made from GMO Roundup-ready soybean and accusing this company and others of infringing its patent.
The ruling mentioned below appears to be an interim opinion with the court's final ruling expected sometime later in the year.
The owner of a patented strain of herbicide-resistant soy can't collect royalties on soy meal imported from Argentina and used for animal feed, a European Court of Justice adviser ruled.
Though the soy meal contains residue of Monsanto's patented gene, it's no longer being used for its patented purpose of resisting pesticides.
Monsanto developed glyphosate, a broad-spectrum pesticide marketed under the name Roundup, along with Roundup-ready crops, which are genetically engineered to resist glyphosate.
Advocate General Paolo Mengozzi, in response to a request for clarification from a Dutch court, advised the high court that a European Union biotech directive distinguishes between simple discovery and invention of genetic code.
DNA that simply exists isn't patentable under the EU directive, Mengozzi stated, because this would allow an "unspecified number of derivative products" to fall under control of the patent-holder. For a patent to be enforceable, the genetic information must be "performing the functions described in the patent," Mengozzi said.
The ruling shot down Monsanto's demand for royalties from Dutch importers of genetically modified soybean meal. Although the soy meal, used for animal feed, contains "residue" of the Roundup-ready gene, after harvest the code is no longer active in its purpose of resisting the pesticide, Mengozzi ruled.
European Court of Justice full interim opinion transcript here.