Clash of the titans

日期:2017-11-14 05:56:32 作者:麻樯章 阅读:

By Kurt Kleiner in Washington DC COMPANIES spearheading agriculture’s gene technology revolution are not only up against consumer opposition to engineered crops. They have also started fighting amongst themselves. Monsanto, the American biotechnology giant that has invested millions of dollars in soya crops genetically engineered to resist the herbicide glyphosate, which it sells as Roundup, could find its profits slashed now that British rival Zeneca has found that the plants are also resistant to its own herbicide, Touchdown. The two companies are locked in a bitter legal battle in the US. Monsanto’s soya beans are genetically altered to tolerate Roundup, allowing the herbicide to kill weeds without harming the crop. Monsanto aimed to profit by selling farmers both beans and herbicide. Glyphosate is the only herbicide approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use with the modified soya, and farmers who grow the plants sign an agreement only to use Roundup. But Zeneca is seeking approval from the EPA to use its own pesticide, sulfosate, marketed as Touchdown, on the engineered soya. Zeneca says its tests show that the plants are also resistant to sulfosate. When it heard about the application, Monsanto started legal proceedings against Zeneca and Pioneer Hi-Bred of Des Moines, Iowa, the company which sold the beans to Zeneca. Monsanto claims that under the licence agreement it signed with Pioneer, such tests were prohibited. “Zeneca did everything without going through the proper legal channels,” says Scarlett Foster, director of public affairs at Monsanto’s headquarters in St Louis. Pioneer and Zeneca replied last month with a suit claiming that Monsanto’s patent on the soya beans is invalid, and charging Monsanto with engaging in unfair competition. “We don’t believe we violated anyone’s agreement,” says Ed Ready, a spokesman for Zeneca’s US arm in Wilmington,