In a lawsuit brought by Brazilian farmers against Monsanto over royalties paid for genetically modified soybeans engineered to withstand glyphosate herbicide, the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice issued a ruling last week.
On June 12, the judges of the Brazilian Supreme Court of Justice ruled against Monsanto. The judges upheld the decision of a judge in Rio Grande do Sul that decided in April that Monsanto’s levies for Roundup Ready soybeans was illegal. They said the patents related to Roundup Ready soybeans had expired in Brazil.
Since 2005, when cultivating Roundup Ready soybeans was legalized in Brazil, Monsanto has been charging Brazilian farmers 2 percent of their Roundup Ready soybean sales. The battle between farmers and Monsanto began in 2009 when a consortium of farming syndicates challenged the levy because they believed it to be an unjust tax.
Part of the challenge stems from before RR soybeans were approved for use in Brazil, the seeds had been smuggled into the country from neighboring countries that had approved the seed. Monsanto argues that many Brazilian farmers still use smuggled seed, which deprives the company of revenue. The Brazilian Association of Seeds and Seedlings countered that 70 percent of soybean farmers now buy the GM seed legally.
However, one of the possible unforeseen result of the case is that if Monsanto is forced to repay any royalties, it could cut funding for biotech research. The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), which is affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, has a research partnership with Monsanto.