Roundup Ready soybeans are set to go off patent in Canada this year.

"Roundup Ready soybeans are the first widespread plant biotechnology trait to go off patent so we want to be very transparent and very clear with growers and other seed licensees," says Monsanto spokesperson Trish Jordan. "We're trying to make sure there's as much information as possible available to growers."

She notes there are a number of important dates for producers to keep in mind.

"The first one is August 2011. That is the Roundup Ready soybean trait patent expiry date. Really, it's just the milestone that triggers a bunch of other things that farmers need to be aware of," she says.

Contract obligations to not save seed under the Technology Stewardship Agreement remain in effect for 2012, meaning that in 2012 a farmer may only seed certified Roundup Ready seed. However, there will be no contractual obligations or royalty payment to Monsanto in 2012.

"It's really in the fall of 2012, when he harvests that seed, that the grower will have the first opportunity to make the decision as to whether or not he's going to save some of that seed, because at that point he'll have no obligation to Monsanto," she explains.

Jordan points out farmers can purchase and plant Monsanto's new soybean technology, known as Genuity Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, this spring.

"A number of varieties are available for 2011 planting, in not only the Dekalb varieties, but other seed companies have also licensed the technology," she says. "And obviously, as the technology becomes more readily available, we'll likely see more varieties and more seed companies offering those options in 2012."

There was widespread testing of RR2 soybeans in Manitoba in 2010.

"They performed very well, roughly a 7 to 11 percent yield advantage," Jordan reports.

Both Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready 2 varieties will be available in coming years.

"We're not precluding any seed companies from continuing to work with Roundup Ready technology and continuing to offer it to growers while we work through this transition. It takes some time to integrate the new technology into various seed companies' germplasm and that sort of thing. So obviously we want to make sure that we have enough suitable varieties in either technology to fill the marketplace," she says.

Roundup Ready soybeans account for more than 60 percent of soybean acres in Canada.

American farmers will be going through a similar transition several years from now. The U.S. patent for the Roundup Ready trait in soybeans expires in 2014.

~ Tuesday, January 11, 2011 ~