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Monsanto Asks Argentine Farmers to Sign Seed Contracts

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page, and our farm Issues page.

Argentina is one of the world's biggest soybean exporters and production is growing, making it a huge potential market for Monsanto's new genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready 2 Yield soy variety.

The company, however, is wary of Argentine laws because its original Roundup Ready soy variety was never patented in the South American country -- although it became ubiquitous -- provoking years of legal wrangling with the government.

The latest Roundup Ready seeds have been patented but Monsanto hopes to guarantee payments on their technology by signing agreements with individual Argentine farmers who are seeking to boost yields.

"We want to sign the contracts to be sure there's a consensus ... We don't want to go with the force of law alone," Monsanto spokesman Pablo Vaquero said.

But Monsanto's move has angered small-scale growers, who have been allowed to sow original Roundup Ready seeds harvested from their own fields without paying royalties.

They accuse Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, of trying to monopolize production in Argentina and of effectively excluding smaller farmers from using new seed technology by demanding too much in royalty payments.