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Mar 11, 2010

Forbes: Seeds of An Anti-Trust Disaster in Iowa

Geoffrey Manne
Executive Director
Internationl Law & Economics Center
Lewis & Clark Law School
Geoffrey Manne, Executive Director of the International Center for Law & Economics and Lecturer in Law at Lewis & Clark Law School writes in Forbes magazine about the Department of Justice's (DOJ) interest in ascertaining whether Monsanto is violating anti-trust laws.

Manne clearly believes that the DOJ investigation is motivated more by ideology rather than market factors.  He defends Monsanto's business practices pointing to their willingness to license their technology.  He also points out that the competition with Pioneer Hi-Bred (a division of Dupont) may be encouraging this investigation.  As an intellectual property legal expert, he notes that "Monsanto’s rise to prominence in the field is actually a success story for patents and for competition. ... Eventually Monsanto started to pull away from its rivals as it became the first seed developer to patent the gene traits of seeds and to license its technology broadly."

A brief review is provided regarding Monsanto's strategy to "stack" seed traits.  Manne offers the hypothesis that anti-trust investigations may stem from "the case where, having negotiated a license without the right to stack identical traits, a competitor decides to do so anyway, drawing a lawsuit from Monsanto enforcing its contract terms--and a counterclaim from the licensee labeling the restriction 'anticompetitive.'"

Manne concludes that competitor DuPont's CEO, Ellen J. Kullman has recently publically stated that "the industry is in an incredibly competitive period.”   According to Manne, "[t]his doesn't sound like a market constrained by a rapacious monopolist."

For more see:

Manne, Geoffrey. “The Seeds of An Anti-Trust Disaster in Iowa.” Forbes, 11 March 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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