Brazil cotton farmers sue Bayer over patent on GMO seed

Brazilian cotton farmers in Mato Grosso state sued Bayer AG on 11 July, seeking to overturn the German chemical firm’s patent protection for its Bollgard II RR Flex genetically modified (GM) cottonseed, Reuters reports.

The farmers are claiming that the GM seed did not constitute a de facto technological innovation, according to the Mato Grosso Cotton Producers Association (AMPA).

They were seeking a refund US$151M worth of royalties they had already paid for use of the technology, Reuters wrote.

The GM cottonseed combined resistance to insects and weed killers, and was developed by US agrochemicals firm Monsanto, which Bayer acquired last June for US$63bn.

Mato Grosso farmers used a similar argument when they sued in Brazil to cancel the patent rights of Bayer’s widely-used Intacta RR2 PRO GM soyabeans.

The attorney representing the farmers, Sidney Pereira de Souza, confirmed that they were suing Bayer and Brazil’s national patent office but would not comment any further.

“If the patent cancellation request is granted, aside from getting the refund, the cotton farmers will save US$240/ha in the coming harvests,” AMPA said, alluding to the royalties related to the seed.

Bayer said in a statement that it had not been formally notified of any patent dispute related to the GM Bollgard II RR Flex technology, which it said had been quickly adopted by Brazilian cotton growers and was the most used in Mato Grosso.