Brazil soy farmers challenge Monsanto’s Intacta soy patent

23 Jan 2018 | Reese Ewing

Brazil’s national association of soybean producers has filed a case in federal court to annul biotechnology giant Monsanto’s patent on Intacta soybeans, it said Tuesday. 

Endrigo Dalcin, president of Aprosoja, said the organisation has been re-examining all soybean patents in Brazil to confirm they are in accordance with Brazilian law.

“At this time, we are together with the patent regulator INPI pursuing a request in the federal courts to annul Monsanto’s patent,” Dalcin said.

Aprosoja contracted international specialists in patent law and biotechnology to conduct a review of Brazil’s patents on soybeans to seek out any factual or legal errors, Dalcin said.

Brazil, along with neighboring Argentina, has been an on-again-off-again thorn in the side of biotechnology giants, often refusing to pay royalties for genetic technology.

In the past, Monsanto has managed to negotiate with local producers by leveraging the vulnerability of large international grains exporters to legal challenges outside the country, often seizing and holding up cargoes in foreign ports.

Intacta, which was designed to help producers combat the aggressive Asian soybean rust fungus that can wipe out whole fields in a matter of days if left unchecked, was introduced in Brazil in 2013.

“All the company did was combine existing technologies at the time, which were already known to producers and scientists. This is insufficient to qualify for a patent from the INPI,” said Aprosoja’s legal representation, Sidney Pereira de Souza Jr.

In Brazil, all valid patents must have something innovative about them, he said.

Souza Jr added Monsanto’s application for Intacta’s patent in Brazil had several gaps in the application which left out key genetic information.

According to Souza Jr, the application also omitted to mention innovations which the company introduced to Intacta after the patent was granted, leaving the seed uncovered under the patent.