Patents

What patent actually expired?

The last patent on the first-generation Roundup Ready® soybean trait has expired. Other traits, including Roundup Ready® traits in other crops and the new Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean trait remain patent-protected.

Is Roundup Ready® seed covered by other forms of intellectual property?

Although the Roundup Ready biotech trait is now off patent, most Roundup Ready® seed in the United States are still likely to be covered by other forms of intellectual property, including variety patents and plant variety protection certificates that plant breeders file when they develop a new variety ("breeder's rights").

What's the difference between a trait patent and a varietal patent?

A trait patent is a patent on a particular biotech trait, such as resistance to glyphosate that can be present in many different soybean varieties. A varietal patent is a patent on a particular variety of bean. A patented variety of bean might contain several different patented traits, or none at all.

A Roundup Ready® soybean was covered by at least two separate patents in the United States — a trait patent for the trait that makes the plant glyphosate-resistant, and a varietal patent for the variety that the breeder created, which contains the trait. Whether it is a trait patent or a variety patent, while a patent is still in place, a breeder, seed company or farmer that wants to use a seed variety that contains the inventions needs a license from the patent holder.

Are Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® Soybeans covered by different patents?

Yes. Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans are covered by different patents than first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans. Even though the patents on the first generation Roundup Ready soybean trait will expire soon, the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait is expected to remain under patent until near the end of the next decade.

Because Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield provides higher yield opportunity for growers, it will serve as the platform for future technologies as well. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend™ soybeans, for example, will allow farmers to extend their application flexibility of dicamba to before, at and after planting, while retaining the glyphosate resistance technology farmers currently have today. In our longer-term pipeline, Monsanto is developing multiple products that provide value for farmers: higher-yielding soybeans; Vistive Gold, which produce a high-oleic soybean oil; and SDA soybeans, which produce an omega-3 soybean oil.

Did Monsanto develop the Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® trait because Roundup Ready® is going off patent?

The Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® trait was developed to meet a market demand for higher yield. Monsanto fully invested our research platform in Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield because of the increased yield opportunity it provides farmers.

Is Monsanto going to stop patenting varieties?

No. We will continue to patent the varieties that we commercialize — as do many other seed providers. Patents encourage advancements and investments in innovation. Our investments in advanced breeding technology allow us to accelerate the rate of improvements in soybean, which translates into additional value for farmers.

Is the United States the first country in which the Roundup Ready® trait patent expired?

No. The Roundup Ready trait patent expired in Canada in August 2011. Soybeans with the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait are covered by patents in both Canada and the U.S., and soybeans with that trait cannot be imported from one country into the other without a special license.

Saving Seed

When may a farmer legally save and plant Roundup Ready soybeans?

That can begin with this planting in the spring of 2015. If you have first generation Roundup Ready seed from last year's harvest, ask your seed supplier if the variety in question is protected by any other patents. If it is, you'll need to ask for a license to save and plant seed that is subject to those patents.

If a variety is still covered by a variety patent, you will not be able to save and plant the seed from those varieties without a license giving you that added right. The right to plant originally-purchased seed normally does not include the right to plant seed saved from the harvest. That's why it is critical to check with your seed supplier regarding the policy for saving seed varieties with the Roundup Ready® trait that were developed by other companies.

What seed is eligible to be saved and planted by a farmer for his own use in 2015?

We have licensed independent seed companies to sell varieties of original Roundup Ready® seed that were developed by Monsanto breeders, and we are enabling those seed companies to provide farmers who purchase those varieties with special licenses to save and plant subsequently harvested seed of those varieties. These rights will only apply to Monsanto-developed varieties, and other breeders will set their own policies about whether to license farmers to plant saved seed of the varieties they developed. If a variety is still covered by a variety patent, you will not be able to save and plant the seed from those varieties without a license giving you that added right. The right to plant originally-purchased seed normally does not include the right to plant seed saved from the harvest. That's why it is critical to check with your seed supplier regarding the policy for saving seed varieties with the Roundup Ready® trait that were developed by other companies.

If a farmer receives a license to legally save seed, what can they do with that harvest?

The harvest can be sold as grain, consumed on the farm, or saved and planted in fields owned or operated by that farmer. The harvest cannot be sold or transferred as planting seed to another farmer.

Can a farmer take the Roundup Ready seed harvested in 2014 and give it to a neighbor to plant?

The answer is almost certainly no; there may be some possible circumstances but they are too complicated to explain here. Again, a farmer that saved approved varieties of Roundup Ready seed from his 2014 harvest can only plant it on his own farm. Legally, it cannot be shared with or sold to neighbors.

If a farmer has Roundup Ready® soybean seed that was harvested before 2014, may that seed be planted in 2015 or thereafter?

No. Even if you could, we would not recommend that because your yield experience is unlikely to be ideal.

Will a farmer be able to save and replant Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybeans?

No. Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® Soybeans are protected under a different patent and will remain so until near the end of the next decade.

Can Monsanto tell the difference between original Roundup Ready soybeans and Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans?

Yes. Our field staff has a testing kit available that is capable of identifying Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield DNA.

Will Monsanto pursue anyone found illegally saving Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield seed?

Developing new seeds requires significant investments. Laws protect patents on things like seeds in order to encourage these sorts of investments. While it is important to us to protect our investment, it is also important to the entire agricultural community that we be able to continue to reinvest in new and better seed technology.

Farmers who buy and plant seeds containing biotechnology agree to a single planting of those seeds and to purchase new seeds the following season. This is an industry standard. The vast majority of our customers stick to this agreement, but a few do not, which gives them an unfair advantage over other farmers. As a matter of routine, if we do find a farmer is saving seed illegally, we make every effort to resolve the matter in a timely way that respects the confidentiality of the farmer.Farmers who buy and plant seeds containing biotechnology agree to a single planting of those seeds and to purchase new seeds the following season. This is an industry standard. The vast majority of our customers stick to this agreement, but a few do not, which gives them an unfair advantage over other farmers. As a matter of routine, if we do find a farmer is saving seed illegally, we make every effort to resolve the matter in a timely way that respects the confidentiality of the farmer.

Roundup Ready Availability and Education

How much Roundup Ready soybeans are currently in the marketplace?

We do not have an estimate of how much Roundup Ready soybeans are in the marketplace. Monsanto developed Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait technology to deliver more yield and profit potential to farmers, and growers have overwhelmingly chosen to plant soybeans containing the Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield trait. Our brands and most of our licensees will not be selling any Roundup Ready varieties this year, although we expect a handful of licensees may offer savable Roundup Ready varieties. 2014 harvest data showed a greater than 4 bu/a advantage for the fourth consecutive year.

Where can I buy Monsanto developed varieties that I can save and plant?

Unfortunately our license agreements with our seed partners prohibit us from sharing a specific company's product plans. We recommend that you check with seed company representatives serving your region. Some seed companies are offering savable varieties they have licensed from Monsanto, but they are independent businesses and will choose how they want to make that seed available to their customers.

What universities or third parties are developing varieties with the Roundup Ready trait?

Ultimately, it is up to each seed company or university breeding program to determine if it will offer Roundup Ready® seed. Following the patent expiration in the United States, everyone including universities will be free to use the Roundup Ready soybean trait technology as they choose. Monsanto has been working with public breeders for a number of years, so they already have Roundup Ready® varieties developed that they may commercialize.

Will a farmer be able to purchase any soybean seed in 2015 and beyond that contains the original Roundup Ready® trait?

Ultimately, it is up to each seed company to determine if it will offer Roundup Ready® seed. Monsanto seed brands will not have any Roundup Ready soybeans in their lineups for 2015. We expect some seed companies will offer Roundup Ready® varieties in 2015. It's important to keep in mind, however, that even though the Roundup Ready patent will have expired, chances are that seeds with the Roundup Ready trait will have other patents on them.

Did Monsanto brands offer any Roundup Ready varieties in 2015 that could be saved?

No. Our brands offered farmers Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean varieties in 2015, and soybeans with this new higher-yielding trait cannot be saved legally. Other seed companies that licensed the Roundup Ready® trait may offer Roundup Ready varieties in 2015.

Will Monsanto continue to develop new Roundup Ready® varieties?

No. Monsanto is not developing any new varieties with the Roundup Ready® soybean trait. We've focused our attention on breeding the best soybeans with the Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® trait, which offers greater yield opportunity for farmers.

What steps has Monsanto taken to educate dealers and growers about Roundup Ready going off patent?

Monsanto has created numerous educational touchpoints with farmers, our field staff and dealer network. We have developed the online resource Soybeans.com to aid farmers in planning and decision-making. The site answers many questions about patents and saving seed as well as offers an interactive decision tree and save seed calculator.

Additionally, Monsanto has signed the Generic Event Marketing and Access Agreement (GEMAA). The GEMAA provides a framework for a consistent industry approach when trait patents expire. The agreement helps ensure that global regulatory authorizations are maintained for biotech traits after patent expiration. The benefit to farmers: assurance that they can use seed with a generic trait event and can export grain from that seed. For more information on the GEMAA, visit www.agaccord.org.

Access to Global Markets and Stacking Rights

Will Monsanto take any steps to maintain global regulatory approvals for the technology after the patent expires?

Yes. Even though the trait patent has expired, it will continue to be regulated by governments around the world, and we want to help maintain access to global markets for those U.S. farmers who grow Roundup Ready soybeans. We expect to provide full global regulatory support for Roundup Ready® soybean grain through 2021.

As patents for other seed traits expire in the future, what will other companies’ commitments be to maintain regulatory approvals?

Over the course of the past two years, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) have led an industry-wide effort to develop an agreement for how companies would manage the process of a trait going off patent. That agreement, called the Generic Event Marketability and Access Agreement (GEMAA), provides a framework for key global markets that farmers and the entire agriculture value chain can count on for their crops. Most trait developers have signed the agreement. More information can be found at www.agaccord.org.

Can other companies commercialize stacked products containing the original Roundup Ready® trait?

Yes. Several companies have broad rights to stack with the Roundup Ready® trait in soybeans and have developed or are developing soybeans with stacked traits.

What does Monsanto think about universities who are developing products with the Roundup Ready trait?

We are looking toward the future and meeting growers' needs by developing new seeds that provide important benefits both to farmers and to the people who eat the food they grow. Those benefits include producing more food with fewer resources, which is critical to keeping food affordable as the world's population grow. We are confident growers see the value of Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans.

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