In a not-so-surprising move, Monsanto says it is suing Syngenta over Roundup Ready corn patent rights. The Monsanto statement came less than 24 hours after Syngenta announced that it would sell Roundup Ready corn that uses a trait licensed from Bayer AG rather than Monsanto.

The suit claims infringement of Monsanto’s patent covering the fundamental technique used in producing glyphosate-tolerant plants, including the GA21 glyphosate-tolerance trait in corn.

Monsanto’s suit requests a permanent injunction against Syngenta, preventing the company from commercially selling in the United States any corn using Monsanto’s patented technology. Monsanto alleges that in pursuing commercialization of GA21 corn, Syngenta is in violation of Patent No. 4,940,835, which covers genes and vectors conferring glyphosate resistance in plants.

“Monsanto has clear intellectual property rights that have been infringed by Syngenta’s use of GA21 corn as a part of its commercial strategy in the United States,” said Tom DeGroot, associate general counsel for Monsanto.

Syngenta, responding to the lawsuit, says it considers Monsanto’s claims groundless. “This case is totally without merit,” said David Jones, head of business development at Syngenta. “We are delighted to have secured worldwide ownership of commercially proven glyphosate-tolerance technology for corn which we intend to make available to growers in the 2005 season. We are entirely satisfied with our decision and have the intellectual property rights we need to commercialize this product. Monsanto’s lawsuit is a flagrant attempt to intimidate customers and restrict choice in the market.”