Afternoon Panel – How have technological developments and structural changes affected the competitive dynamics of the seed industry?

Afternoon Panel:  How have technological developments and structural changes affected the competitive dynamics of the seed industry?

This is a depressing one to report on. Really scripted. Real b.s. – other than Neil Harl
This includes:
Jim McDonald (ERS) – moderator – lobbing softballs at these guys to try and show that everyone is working together. 
Neil Harl  (ISU)
- describes how PVPs worked and allowed for continued innovation by researchers and farmers. Points out that patents have done the opposite and limited choice. Says congress needs to intervene and referee to stop patent abuses.  Points out that farmers don’t want to “buy a lawsuit” when they buy seed. Reminds everyone that patented material does get into others seed, and this liability on farmers is unfair. Says we need regulatory action 
Diana Moss (American Antitrust Institute) was  funded by DuPont to write a paper against Monsanto’s monopoly practices. But she is pro-patent and pro-biotech. Just wants generic biotech traits available, like we have in pharmaceuticals. 
Jim Tobin (Monsanto)
-  ”patents have attracted a great deal of innovation. “
“Allows farmers to make more money.”
(biotech) “saved kids from having to walk the beans every summer.” (first job I ever had was walking soybean fields to seed them. what is wrong with laboring on a farm??)
Says there are 50 new traits being worked on in biotech by many companies. Licensed to 200 companies. A lot of choice today and going to be more in the future. Says Monsanto shouldn’t be punished for being ahead of the competition. 
Ray Gessner (soybean and corn farmer)
- No problems. Lots of choices for conventional growers in seed. 
Dermot Hayes (ISU)
- We don’t have strong enough intellectual property on wheat and so it lags behind. Need biotechnology and patents for wheat traits. 
This panel is so imbalanced (other than Neil who really gets the negative impact of panels). This is the most stomach wrenching crap – exactly as we feared. They’re talking about how exciting it will be when Roundup Ready goes off patent (2015) and lots of folks can use it. What they aren’t talking about is that by 2015 Roundup (glyphosate) will be next to useless in US because of weed resistance to it from overuse. 
They’re bemoaning how expensive it is for Monsanto to get deregulation on a new product. Takes them so much time, money, etc. $100 million to bring a new trait from development, through regulation, and into the market = justification for patents. 
Monsanto  (Jim Tobin)  patting itself on the back for how it’s going to allow others to use the RR resistance trait and keep maintaining the quality of the trait for those who want to use it. 
The crowd is rumbling. This all feels so scripted. 
Now Tobin tells us that Monsanto has a 2,4-d resistance trait in the pipeline to replace roundup ready resistance. 2, 4-d!!  So wait, their claims they are saving the environment with Roundup is temporary and they are going to push farmers into spraying a major cancer causing herbicide!!! And he sees this as a success and innovation.
Someone from Monsanto contacted me and says that what Tobin said is the there is an “opportunity” for a 24-d trait” but that Monsanto does NOT have it in the pipleline. Several others I spoke with thought they heard it as being more active, but I can’t be sure and we don’t need rumors as there are plenty of truths to address when it comes to creating a healthier seed system.
Can’t wait to see the published transcript of this session.
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One Response to Afternoon Panel – How have technological developments and structural changes affected the competitive dynamics of the seed industry?

  1. Mica says:

    I was at the hearing and was live tweeting today.

    Just to clarify before this snowballs into a “truth,” we do not have a 2,4-D trait in the Monsanto pipeline. What Jim said is there is the opportunity for a 2,4-D trait from others, but we are not working on it.

    Mica Veihman
    Monsanto

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