Monsanto Embargoes Argentina From Getting Dicamba Resistant Soybeans

Monsanto has embargoed Argentina from receiving new soybean technologies marketed by the company after the Argentine government insisted it had the sole right to demand the inspection of exports leaving the country (archived). Monsanto has been pressuring export and shipping companies to conduct inspections in an effort to enforce a perverse form of royalty payment on crops that happen to contain genes that Monsanto markets. As the world's leading exporter of soybean meal for livestock feed Argentina presents a perfect environment for Monsanto to extort royalties from farmers whose crops happen to acquire genes marketed by Monsanto This occurs through natural plant reproduction as pollen containing genes Monsanto claims title to travels beyond the borders of Monsanto customer's fields and mixes company with other people's soybeans.

Monsanto is using a new Dicamba resistant trait they have pirated from the bacteria Pseudomonas maltophilia as leverage to try to force their extortion attempt on Argentine farmers. Dicamba is a potent pre and post emergent herbicide with strong action against a variety of broadleaf plants including notably legumes, like soybeans. Monsanto plans to, pending regulatory approval, market soybeans with Glyphosate and Dicamba resistant traits along with a prepared mix of Glyphosate and Dicamba as the "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System(TM)(R)."

The emergence of Glyphosate resistant weeds and the Glyphosate's move off patent in 20001 along with the impending patent expiration of the original Roundup Ready(TM)(R) traits is putting immense pressure on a line of business that composes half of Monsanto's revenue. Unfortunately for Monsanto the most economically important weed in Argentina that has developed Glyphosate resistance, Johnsongrass or Sorghum halepense,  doesn't find Dicamba to be particularly toxic, being a grass and all. The ryegrass genera Lolium also is a big reservoir of natural Glyphosate resistance, but that problem is more pronounced in Australia. Now, Dicamba does exhibit toxicity towards grasses, but substantially higher dosing is required than when using Dicamba for broadleaf weed control.

This has the practical effect of making fields used for dicamba resistant soybeans of little use for anything else until the Dicamba breaks down, and depending of the soild composition Dicamba has a half life of 1-6 weeks. This means leaving the field fallow for quite some time, trying to rotate in a cereal crop that might not have its yield reduced too much by all that Dicamba being put down to control a different cereal (the Johnson grass), or sticking with Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System(TM)(R). The preemergent action of Dicamba means quickly throwing up a cover crop after harvest for silage or grazing isn't going to happen, and converting the field into to a desirable pasture is going to take some time.2 Those cows better enjoy their soybean meal. Sorry for your loss.

  1. Dicamba is also off patent and has been for quite a while.  

  2. Johnson grass can be used for grazing, but its tendency to produce lots of cyanide when it wilts discourages this use. 

3 thoughts on “Monsanto Embargoes Argentina From Getting Dicamba Resistant Soybeans

  1. The amount of gene transfer via natural pollination is very minimal. The gene transfer is occuring when farmers illegally replant seed, and in the case of Argentina, they may very well have the support of their government in doing so. If the state is going to encourage its producers to "steal" Monsanto's product, Monsanto has every right to refuse to do business there. To compare, if Microsoft saw Argentina copying Windows 10 and distributing it to its residents as soon as the disks crossed into the country's borders (a failing analogy i know, due do digital download, but bear with me) Microsoft would very likely stop doing business in a country so hostile to its business/profit.

    • But plants do make baby plants thought polination, and if Monsanto really wanted to keep milking the gene patent thing they could have done much better than… Dicamba. The Xtend name also is kind of a loser as it invokes lazy pharma company patent extension tricks.

    • "Very minimal" is not a term of art.

      Either Monsanto finds a way to make it not occur, or else Monsanto holds no title to future generations.

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