West Virginia sues Monsanto over soybean probe

St. Louis Business Journal, USA, Kelsey Volkmann

West Virginia’s attorney general sued Monsanto on Monday, saying the agritech giant refuses to cooperate with his office’s investigation of soybeans genetically modified to withstand the company’s Roundup weedkiller.

Attorney General Darrell McGraw’s suit asks the court to prohibit Monsanto from selling any of its products in West Virginia until it fully complies with the subpoena.

McGraw said he launched a probe into Monsanto and its advertising when several published tests showed the results touted by Monsanto may not support its advertising for a second-generation soybean seed called Roundup Ready 2 Yield, which are $5 more per acre than the first-generation seeds. Patents on the first generation seeds expire in 2014. To promote its second generation of genetically modified soybeans, Monsanto advertised that the Roundup Ready 2 Yield plants have an increased yield of 7 percent to 11 percent over similar varieties of the first-generation plants, McGraw said.

“I want to ensure there is a fair marketplace for West Virginia farmers,” McGraw said in statement. “They need to know if it is worth extra money to buy new products that may not live up to the hype.”

Creve Coeur-based Monsanto, which is led by Chairman and Chief Executive Hugh Grant, said the attorney general’s office won’t agree to a protective order related to the confidential intellectual property information.

“Such a protective order is a customary practice when intellectual property is involved,” spokeswoman Kelli Powers said in an e-mailed statement. “We also believe a protective order is appropriate in this instance as many of the attorney general’s questions parallel allegations made by DuPont-Pioneer Hi Bred in the St. Louis federal court litigation. In that case, the Federal Court has entered a protective order.”

Powers said Monsanto stands by its data, saying they were collected across more than 40,000 comparisons from 2007 to 2009.

In 2009, two West Virginia farmers planted Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans, Powers said. Monsanto does not have test plot data specifically from West Virginia due to the limited production of soybeans in the state, she said.

“Agriculture is our only business at Monsanto, and we are committed to the success of farmers,” she said. “That’s why we introduce new products only after we have thoroughly tested them and have the full confidence — backed by data — that they will deliver on farm.”

Link to article on St. Louis Business Journal

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