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Monsanto's Behind-the-Scenes Influence on University Research - and the Consequences

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University research money goes to GMOs, not organics

Land-grant universities such as Kansas State are receiving increased funding for research on genetically modified crops while few research dollars go to organic and sustainable farming methods.

Small-scale and organic farmers in Kansas say Kansas State University does little to help them meet the booming consumer demand for their products.

"The amount of money going into sustainable or organic agriculture is miniscule compared to what's going into, say, genetic engineering," says Rhonda Janke, a sustainable agriculture professor at KState.

Chuck Hassebrook, executive director at the national Center for Rural Affairs in Lyons, Neb., says K-State and other land grant universities are too influenced by corporate funding. "What we need from our land grant universities is leadership, what we get is 'Oh, we can only do what the funders are willing to fund,'" he says.

(SOURCE: KHI News Service)

University of Nebraska partnership with Monsanto leads to new GM soybean

With funding from Monsanto Company, scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have developed a new soybean that is genetically modified to be resistant to Dicamba herbicide.

The herbicide-resistant soybean "technology" was licensed to Monsanto Company which provided research dollars to the university.

In recent years, there have been increasing concerns over weeds becoming resistant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, which could weaken the effectiveness of the company's GM Roundup Ready crops.

Monsanto hopes to introduce a Dicamba-resistant cotton by 2011.

(SOURCE: Omaha World-Herald)

Iowa State University sues Monsanto over patent violations on soybeans

Monsanto has often been on the suing side of patent infringement cases involving their genetically modified crops, but Iowa State University recently turned the tables on the biotech giant. The University's Research Foundation, along with the Department of Technology Transfer, has filed suit against Monsanto Corporation claiming that its GM Vistive soybean product violates patents belonging to two ISU agronomists.

Vistive soybeans are a specialty hybrid formulated to contain a low amount of linolenic acid, creating a healthier soybean oil with fewer saturated and trans fats. According to ISU, several patents for a low-linolenic soybean belong to Walter Fehr, director of agronomy at ISU, and Earl Hammond, retired university professor emeritus. The foundation claims that their patents, which cover bean products as well as the protocols used to create them, were granted in 1996 and 1998. ISU introduced its non-GMO low linolenic soybean in 2004. Monsanto's Vistive varieties came out in 2005.

Monsanto representatives denied that an infringement took place, claiming that the company created the lowlinolenic acid soybean hybrid independently using germplasm that was available to the public. The company said that it arrived at an agreement with the Research Foundation in February over the patent issue. According to the foundation, its representatives met with Monsanto but never reached an agreement.

Vistive soybeans are genetically modified only in that they contain the Roundup Ready herbicide tolerant gene. The low linolenic trait was produced through conventional breeding.

(SOURCE: Food, Iowa State Daily, Des Moines Register)