Monsanto will continue global regulatory approvals for the company’s Roundup Ready soybean trait through 2021.

“We are pleased to confirm that Monsanto will extend its commitment to maintain international regulatory support for RR1 from 2017 through 2021. We are in the process of notifying licensees of this extension,” said James P. Tobin, Monsanto’s vice president, industry affairs, in a letter to stakeholders. “No new regulatory action is needed in the United States for commercialization of generic seed following the RR1 patent expiration. The extension of international regulatory support gives farmers and the industry more than a decade to develop plans for ongoing support for import approvals in other countries beyond 2021.”

The Roundup Ready 1 trait is due to expire in 2014, and the company is working to finalize the transition of the RR1 technology to the public domain to be used by seed companies and producers without royalty payments to Monsanto.

The American Soybean Association applauded the announcement. "Agriculture is blazing a new trail as the patents on the first generation of biotech-enhanced seed traits begin to expire," said Rob Joslin, ASA president. "While supporting patent protection for traits as a key driver for continued soybean seed industry investment and innovation, ASA desires competition to flourish, generic traits to be available in the marketplace, and prices for seed containing generic traits to decline once trait patents expire."

With the RR1 trait likely to remain in the pipeline and thus be identified in export shipments after 2021, a longer-term approach must be developed for maintaining export registrations for RR1 as well as other traits whose patents will be expiring, according to the ASA.