While the Argentine government has recently shown signs that it may take the side of farmers over Monsanto, the international agricultural corporation is not willing to simply accept defeat. Nor is it even willing to accept a minor obstacle in its attempt to dominate the food supply.
Shortly after the government of President Mauricio Macri passed a resolution officially giving control of the analysis of seeds, Monsanto is now set to challenge the Argentine government’s decision.
While the Argentine government has agreed to collect monies owed by small farmers in royalties on genetically modified soybean seeds, the government requested additional time to do so. Even this, however, was unacceptable to Monsanto as the corporation rejected the government’s request according to two unnamed Monsanto staff members cited by Bloomberg News.
As a result, Ricardo Buryaile, the Agricultural Minister and members of his staff have met with representatives of Monsanto and Chief Operation Officer Brett Begemann to request a waiver on the owed royalties.
Monsanto rejected that waiver request but did agree to slash the royalties being demanded from fifteen dollars per hectare to nine dollars per hectare for growers who use Monsanto technology but who do not actually purchase the seeds directly from Monsanto itself.
Both Monsanto and the government did agree that large soybean producers must pay royalties. Interestingly enough, Monsanto’s stock rose three percent on the heels of this announcement. The stock had declined seven percent this year.
The issue surrounds the fact that Monsanto has been demanding that exporters inspect cargo to determine whether or not farmers had paid the requisite royalties to produce the company’s genetically modified soybeans. Monsanto is claiming that Argentine farmers have benefited immensely from the Intacta technology and is demanding that everyone pay to use it.
For about a year, Monsanto has been pressuring shipping companies and demanding that the companies notify it when crops produced with Intacta technology are scheduled to be exported without corresponding documentation proving that royalties had been paid to Monsanto.
The Intacta soybeans in question are genetically engineered to have a gene that protects them against worms that target the plant. Monsanto is demanding royalties for grains produced even by second generation seeds. Farmers, however, argue that Argentinian law does not require that they pay for second generation production and are asking the government to stop private companies from acting as food inspectors.
The Argentine Rural Society (SRA) an organization that represents medium and large-scale producers said the inspections were unwarranted.
“These methods were not only not authorized, but furthermore, we saw them as an abusive power for a company to be acting like the police,” SRA president Luis Etchevehere said.
In an official bulletin that was issued on Thursday, April 14th, Argentina’s Agricultural Ministry stated that any inspection needs prior government authorization.
An official resolution was passed by the government on April 15th.