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When will Monsantos patent of seeds expire? Why is it a good idea to destroy the multiplicity of species and take nature as your property? What if people in Africa cannot afford your royalty? Will they die of hunger?

Submitted by: Schmicht


Expert response from Chelsey Robinson

Former Global Preparedness Content Manager, Monsanto Company

Tuesday, 24/02/2015 10:18

It seems you have several concerns. I’ll answer them individually.


When will Monsanto’s patent of seeds expire?

Monsanto currently has patents for a variety of technologies, including plants, chemicals, processes and machines. Patents generally last either 17 years from issuance (if filed before 1995) or 20 years from filing (if filed after 1995). Exact expiration of any technology depends on the date of filing.


Why is it a good idea to destroy the multiplicity of species and take nature as your property?

I think what you are asking about here is biodiversity and maintaining biodiversity is very important. In fact, biodiversity can actually be enhanced by the adoption of GM crops. I suggest checking out another question on the impacts on biodiversity or crop genetic diversity that have been previously answered, as well as an article on transgenic plants and diversity.


What if people in Africa cannot afford your royalty? Will they die of hunger?

Starvation in Africa is a current issue now, and technology that increases food security is critical. Anywhere our traits or seeds are sold, Monsanto prices our products based on the value to the customer. If the product is priced too high, farmers will choose to buy another company’s seed, so it is in Monsanto’s best interest to price our seed accordingly. Furthermore, Monsanto broadly licenses our technology to hundreds of seed companies that compete with Monsanto's branded seed. This means that farmers have many choices to obtain the technology instead of buying only from Monsanto directly.


In Africa, Monsanto partners with farmers and numerous organizations to help fight hunger, improve nutrition and support local communities. Over the past 10 years three quarters of the world’s most severe droughts occurred in Africa. That’s why we are proud to be part of Water Efficient Maize for Africa project (WEMA). This is public/private partnership, led by the Kenyan-based African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and USAID. They aim to improve food security and rural livelihoods among smallholder maize farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa by developing and distributing new drought-tolerant and insect pest-protected maize seed hybrids. Monsanto is working with the contributors such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT (a key provider of corn germplasm for the WEMA partnership) to provide locally-adapted conventional maize hybrids and hybrids with Monsanto’s insect resistant and drought resistant trait technology. This trait technology is being licensed royalty-free to seed companies doing business in Sub-Saharan Africa for distribution to smallholder farmers. Together, the partnership is helping to build technical breeding and biotechnology as well as seed systems in Africa – Monsanto’s contributions include germplasm, biotech traits, advance breeding knowledge and seed systems expertise.  You can learn more about the WEMA project on our website.