Monsanto officials say the company has been asked to turn over information about its soybean traits business to the Justice Department. In a statement, Monsanto said the DOJ is primarily seeking documents confirming that farmers and independent seed companies will continue to have access to the Roundup Ready herbicide tolerance trait following patent expiration in 2014.
Monsanto notified farm groups last month that the company would continue to license the Roundup Ready technology to seed companies and universities through the expiration of patents and beyond, even though it was phasing out use of the trait in its branded soybean varieties in favor of a new, higher-yielding trait called Roundup Ready 2 Yield.
Monsanto said it respects the thorough regulatory process and believes its business practices are fair, pro-competitive and in compliance with the law. The DOJ and USDA are conducting an ongoing review of the entire agriculture industry, including the seed and trait industry.