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Meridian Institute

Monsanto May Lose GM Soya Royalties throughout Brazil

Summary posted by Meridian on 6/15/2012

Source: Nature News (15 June 2012)

Author(s): Luisa Massarani

This article says that Monsanto may be one step closer to losing billions of dollars in revenues from its genetically modified (GM) “Roundup Ready” soybeans, following a ruling this week by the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice. Since the legalization of Roundup Ready soybeans in Brazil in 2005, Monsanto has charged Brazilian farmers 2 percent of their sales of the GM soybeans, which now account for an estimated 85 percent of the nation’s soya-bean crop. The company also tests Brazilian soybeans that are sold as non-GM. If they turn out to be Roundup Ready, the company charges the farmers responsible for the crops some 3 percent of their sales. In 2009, a consortium of farming syndicates from the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul mounted a legal challenge to these levies, arguing that they are effectively an unjust tax on their businesses, and that it has proved impossible to keep Roundup Ready soybeans separate from conventional varieties. In April, Giovanni Conti, a judge in Rio Grande do Sul, decided that Monsanto’s levy was illegal, noting that the patents relating to Roundup Ready soybeans have already expired in Brazil. He ordered Monsanto to stop collecting royalties, and return those collected since 2004, or pay back a minimum of US$2 billion. Monsanto appealed, and Conti's decision has been suspended for now, pending consideration by the Justice Tribune of Rio Grande do Sul. Meanwhile, in a parallel legal process initiated by Monsanto in 2011, the company requested that the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice, the country's highest federal court, rule that the farming syndicates had no legal status to bring their case, and also that any final ruling should be limited to Rio Grande do Sul. But on June 12, the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Monsanto, deciding unanimously that the ruling by the Justice Tribune of Rio Grande do Sul, once it is made, should apply nationwide. Some scientists fear that if the company is forced to repay royalties, it could trigger cuts in funding for GM research. Brazil is the second-largest producer of GM crops, after the U.S. The article can be viewed online at the link below.

The original article may still be available at http://www.nature.com/news/monsanto-may-lose-gm-soya-royalties-throughout-brazil-1.10837

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