Bayer Amends Patent Infringement Lawsuit
Bayer CropScience has amended its patent infringement lawsuit pending in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware against Dow AgroSciences, following DAS’s announcement that it has applied for approval to launch a three-gene herbicide tolerant soybean under the Dow Enlist brand name. Bayer’s existing suit asserts that DAS’s previously announced Dow Enlist brand of corn, soybeans and cotton infringe Bayer’s 2,4-D herbicide tolerance patents. In the amendment, Bayer claims that DAS’s newly announced products also infringe several Bayer patents covering glyphosate-tolerant plants. This complaint now seeks a permanent injunction both against DAS’s unauthorized use of the company’s 2,4-D herbicide tolerance patents and Bayer’s glyphosate tolerance patents. “Respect for intellectual property is the foundation for any research-based business,” says Margaret Keating, associate general counsel for Bayer CropScience, “and we intend to vigorously enforce our property rights.”

DuPont Receives Two EPA Registrations for Corn Products
DuPont business Pioneer Hi-Bred has approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for Optimum AcreMax and Optimum AcreMax Xtra insect protection products in corn. Optimum AcreMax marks the industry’s first U.S. approval of a single-bag integrated refuge product that targets only above-ground insects. Both Optimum AcreMax and Optimum AcreMax Xtra products integrate all of a Corn Belt grower’s refuge needs into a single bag. “We are excited to offer corn growers the broadest line-up of simplified, integrated refuge products in the industry,” said Paul E. Schickler, president of Pioneer. “Optimum AcreMax and Optimum AcreMax Xtra products from Pioneer will not only help growers maximize corn yields but preserve valuable in-plant insect protection for the future.”

Syngenta Receives Import Approvals
Syngenta in North America has received import approval from Japanese and Mexican regulatory authorities for the Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack, which offers corn growers dual modes of action against a broad spectrum of above-ground insects, including corn borer, as well as a five percent refuge in the Corn Belt region of the United States. These regulatory approvals allow the importation of U.S. corn grown with the Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack for food or feed use within Japan and Mexico. “Japanese and Mexican import approvals provide U.S. growers access to a highly valuable market and are a major step toward Agrisure Viptera 3220 trait stack commercialization for the 2012 growing season,” says David Morgan, Syngenta’s North American regional director and president of Syngenta Seeds Inc.

Syngenta Agrisure Trait Stack Approved by EPA
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has granted registration approval for Syngenta’s Agrisure 3122 trait stack. The Agrisure 3122 stack offers growers dual modes of action against both corn borer and corn rootworm, with a structured refuge of only five percent in the Corn Belt region of the United States. The Agrisure 3122 trait stack includes the Agrisure CB/LL trait, which has been helping to protect corn from European corn borer for more than 10 years; the Agrisure RW trait, which protects against corn rootworm; the Herculex I trait for corn borer; the Herculex RW trait for corn rootworm; and the Agrisure GT trait for glyphosate tolerance.



European Court of Justice Rules French Ban  on GM Crops Illegal
The European Court of Justice has judged the French ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops to be illegal. The ECJ ruling has confirmed the arguments raised by French farmers and seed companies that the 2008 French government order suspending MON810 use by French farmers did not follow applicable procedural regulations. In addition, the ECJ indicated that emergency measures can be invoked only when there is a clear and serious risk to human health, animal health or environment, but this was not the case when the French government initially acted. EuropaBio views the Court’s judgment as a sign of progress. “The European Court of Justice has given a clear verdict today: EU member states cannot ban GM based on myths and hearsay. In fact, French farmers had three years of experience planting GM crops prior to this ban,” says Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, EuropaBio’s director of green biotechnology. “European scientists have shown again and again that GM crops pose no risk to health or the environment and, in fact, have health, socio-economic and environmental benefits. After all, they are grown on nearly 150 million hectares worldwide by over 15 million farmers, 90 percent of whom are resource-poor farmers working in developing countries.”

EU Backs Right to Ban GM Cultivation
European Union member states should have the flexibility to ban or restrict the cultivation of genetically modified crops and should be able to cite environmental motives for doing so, according to members of the European Parliament who recently voted on draft legislation. The draft amendment to existing legislation will now go to the council for further discussion. “I am pleased that parliament has reached an agreement on the difficult issue of GMOs, which has been an issue of public concern for years. If the council manages to find a common position, this balanced agreement will allow countries and regions the right to not grow GMOs if they so choose,” says the parliament’s rapporteur Corinne Lepage. Only one strain of GM maize and one modified potato are currently authorized for cultivation in the EU and most member states do not grow either crop commercially.

Peru Accedes to the UPOV Convention
Peru has acceded to the UPOV Convention and will become the seventieth member of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants on August 8, 2011. The purpose of the UPOV Convention is to encourage the development of new plant varieties by granting breeders intellectual property rights on the basis of a set of clearly defined principles. To be eligible for protection, varieties need to satisfy certain conditions, such as being distinct from existing, commonly-known varieties and sufficiently uniform and stable. The development of new plant varieties is one of the most powerful tools to enhance food production sustainably, to increase income in the agricultural sector and to contribute to overall development. UPOV is an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Kenya to Allow GM Crop Imports
Kenya’s Cabinet has approved the importation of genetically modified maize as it seeks to curb a food shortage ravaging most parts of the country. The move makes Kenya the first country in the region to allow GM crops into the market for human consumption. Kenya is the most advanced country in the region in terms of GM research and biosafety protocols, and analysts expect that the country’s experience in handling GM crops in the market will be used as a model for other neighbouring countries to refine their own biotechnological practices. The brief from Kenya’s presidential press unit states that “only millers will be allowed to import GM maize, which will only be used for processing into flour.” The brief also stated that “no GM maize should be used as seeds under any circumstances.”

UPOV Technical Working Party
The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants recently held the 45th session of its Technical Working Party for Vegetables in Monterey, Calif. The session included a preparatory workshop, which gave a general overview of UPOV, including its structure and project completion str
ategy. One of the session’s focuses was intellectual property protection. Jerry Vosti, an account manager for Nunhems USA who has been working in the lettuce and spinach industry for more than 35 years, says intellectual property protection is especially important because it is so difficult to protect genetics in the lettuce seed industry. “There is an enormous amount of competition out here and the fact that lettuce is open-pollinated makes IP protection and enforcement a critical business component,” says Vosti. “Anything that can be done to strengthen PVP laws and help companies’ ability to protect their investments is a good thing.”