Will the Department of Justice charge Monsanto with violating antitrust laws in its seed business? On Friday, Monsanto’s chief rival urged the Obama Administration to go ahead. Pioneer Hi-Bred Friday called Monsanto an “overwhelming monopoly” and that it “encouraged the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Justice to examine the current state of ag biotech competition and take appropriate action to restore a competitive environment,” the Des Moines Register reported.
DuPont, which owns Pioneer Hi-Bred, is Monsanto’s chief rival. Pioneer said Monsanto controls 98 percent of the soybean biotech seed trade and 78% of the corn market. Monsanto, meanwhile, wrote in its comments to the DOJ that farmers can buy seed from more than 20 companies and that “traits are only a part of the total value of the seed, which is why there is substantial competition and variation in price even among seeds that contain the same trait combination.”
Monsanto’s technology creates soybean and corn crops that are resistant to Roundup herbicide. Pioneer licenses that technology — and has agreed to pay $725 million in fees to Monsanto through 2015 — but Monsanto has sued Pioneer over that company’s plans to combine the Roundup Ready trait with traits developed by Pioneer.