Monsanto Co. spent $4.64 million in the first two quarters of 2010 and it is on pace to set a new high for its lobbying expenditures. This has been fueled by lobbying on an increasing number of legal and legislative issues affecting the world’s largest conventional and biotech seed manufacturer.
Lobbying federal government on proposed changes to U.S. patent law that are part of Patent Reform Act of 2010 were among the top concerns for the company. Patents are vital to the company that has re-invented itself around selling patented genetically modified seeds. Over the past decade Monsanto has aggressively sought to patent and protect genetic plant material and to acquire companies controlling genetically modified seed patents. Also, it has spent heavily to prosecute seed patent violators, including, most notoriously, small farmers who had inadvertently grown Monsanto’s GM seeds.
It is Monsanto’s use of patents and licensing that is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Government lawyers are looking into whether Monsanto violated antitrust laws through its tight control of patented and conventional genes for all four major industrial crops grown in the U.S., including corn, soybeans, canola, and cotton. Not surprisingly, in the first half of 2010 Monsanto has lobbied on issues concerning antitrust and consolidation in agriculture.
Monsanto also lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture on approval of genetically modified crops, such as RoundUp Ready alfalfa and RoundUp Ready sugar beets. These crops were the focus of lawsuits and have threatened company’s ability to slip in approvals of genetically modified crops with little environmental scrutiny, as has often been the case in the past, and they had resulted in what could be viewed as significant legal setbacks to the company and as key victories for anti-GMO advocates.
Another target on the lobbying docket for Monsanto was global trade and promotion of biotechnology around the world. It’s lobbying efforts to numerous federal departments, the White House and Congress members focused on eliminating EU moratorium on biotech imports. Monsanto has sought to break down regulatory barriers to biotech trade and to further acceptance of agricultural biotechnologies on every continent and with virtually every major importer of U.S. agricultural products, from Far East Asia in Japan, China, and Korea, to India, Pakistan and Turkey, to Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Columbia and Chile in South America, to Mexico, Canada, Australia, and a host of other countries all over the globe.
In the first half of the year, Monsanto’s lobbying spending was up from $3.36 million during the same period last year.
Monsanto lobbied the U.S. Congress, the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Trade Representative Office, and the U.S. Departments of State, Interior, Commerce, and Defense, and the Patent & Trademark Office.