Monsanto, ISU Settle Dispute Over Low-Linolenic Soybeans

The seed company and the university agree to collaborate on soybean technologies.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation and Monsanto Company announced an agreement last week that resolves a patent dispute related to low linolenic soybeans and establishes a relationship that paves the way for future technology development.

Under the terms of agreement Monsanto will receive a commercial license from the ISU research foundation for current and future low linolenic acid product lines developed by Iowa State University. The university will receive a research license for the use of Roundup RReady2Yield soybeans. Additional terms of the agreement were not disclosed and officials from Monsanto and ISU will not discuss the additional terms.

"This collaborative agreement will ensure that farmers will be able to obtain the benefits of these new soybean technologies delivered together in the seed," says Robb Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer. "We've had a long, productive relationship with Iowa State University and we look forward to working with them to provide ways for farmers to increase profitability and productivity and for consumers to get the benefits from improved soybean oils."

Agree to settle soybean patent lawsuit

ISU President Gregory Geoffroy says, "The University and the Research Foundation are pleased with this agreement. We look forward to continuing our work with Monsanto for the benefit of ISU, the company and farmers."

Soybeans that contain low linolenic acid content result in more stable oil that does not require hydrogenation. By eliminating hydrogenation, the oil has no trans fat. As additional soybean quality traits are developed by ISU, Monsanto's Roundup RReady2Yield trait will be made available for stacked combinations.

Basically, ISU has agreed to give Monsanto a license to sell an ISU-developed low trans fat soybean in return for a research license for use of the company's Roundup RReady2Yield soybean. The agreement settles a lawsuit filed in May by ISU that alleged that Monsanto began selling its Vistive soybeans, which are used to make a cooking oil low in trans fats, "without any license or authority from the foundation and now licenses ISU's technology to others."

ISU professors Walter Fehr and Earl Hammond have been awarded several U.S. patents relating to soybeans with low linolenic acid content. Soybeans with low linolenic acid content result in more stable oil that requires no hydrogenation.

Demand for low-lin beans is booming

The demand for low linolenic soybeans has boomed as concerns rise over trans fats and human health. New York City and several other large cities have passed laws forcing restaurants to phase out their use of trans fat, and restaurant chains across the U.S. are eliminating trans fats. According to court documents, ISU professors began developing low linolenic soybeans and their production methods as early as 1968. Monsanto introduced its Vistive soybeans in 2005.

Roundup RReady2Yield soybeans are expected to deliver a 7% to 11% increase in yield for soybean farmers, based on data compared to the current Roundup Ready line, says Monsanto spokesperson Geri Berdak. That technology will now be available to the ISU research foundation for use in experimentation.

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and products that improve farm productivity and food quality. For more information see www.monsanto.com. ISURF is a not-for-profit corporation that manages intellectual property arising from research carried out at ISU. For information about ISURF, see www.techtransfer.iastate.edu.

TAGS: Soybean
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