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Don't Be a Seed Saving Rebel

Think
you’ll be able to save Roundup Ready seed when its patent expires in 2015?

Not
exactly.

It’s
true that in the first growing season following patent expiration in 2016, you
will be able to save and plant generic Roundup Ready soybean seed. However,
remember that chances are good this seed will contain other characteristics and
traits still protected by patents. This nixes any seed saving plans you may
have.

“All
Pioneer brand products carry multiple forms of intellectual property
protection,” says Alejandro Munoz, vice president for the Americas and global
production for Pioneer Hi-Bred. Munoz briefed members of the agricultural media
at this week’s 2012 Pioneer Media Event in Johnston Iowa.

“The
U.S. regulatory environment allows you (seed companies) to protect germplasm,”
he says. “On top of that, it protects improvements in the expression of native
traits. It could be diseases, it could be insects.”

For
example, varieties that have been improved to carry characteristics like
soybean cyst nematode resistance would be covered by patent protection. Even if
the Roundup Ready patent expires, other patents protected by U.S. laws still
apply, says Munoz.

Pioneer
plans to hire third-party auditors to check fields and make sure farmers are complying
with patent protection, says Munoz. This will follow an extensive educational
effort explaining why patent protection still applies on applicable Pioneer
soybean varieties.

“When
we got closer to post patent (Roundup Ready), we will educate the American
farmer what is in their rights and not within their rights,” he says. “There
will be some rebels who test the limits, and we will deal with them on a
one-on-one basis. But 99.9% of farmers want to do the right thing, so we plan to
educate and explain it so they comply with what the law says.”

He
says the company has had a positive experience in Canada, when Roundup Ready
patent protection expired in 2011. “In 2012, our sales are up in Canada,” he
says. 

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