Texas Tech Ag Economics Expert: Monsanto Patent Ruling Helps and Hurts

Today (May 13) the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of industry giant Monsanto, that an Indiana farmer’s effort to replicate weed-killer-resistant soybeans was a patent infringement.

Texas Tech University agricultural economics expert, Darren Hudson, said the ruling is not likely to change anything from where things are today, and consumers are not likely to see any major changes in any prices or food choices as a result of this ruling.

Hudson is a professor and Larry Combest Agricultural Competitiveness Endowed Chair as well as the director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

“This is not particularly shocking, but it makes perfect sense,” Hudson said. “Although the cost of planting seed has risen, one has to recognize that what genetic modification technology did was to shift most of the growing season cost into the seed (herbicide, pesticide, etc.) and lowered the in-season cost. Just remember, no one would plant it if they were not making money with it.”

However, one report released in February showed three corporations control more than half of the global commercial seed market. It found that from 1995-2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans rose 325 percent.

“The degree of market concentration in the seed industry is a bit troubling for the long-term,” Hudson said, “but this ruling will neither enhance or inhibit that concentration.”

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CONTACT: Darren Hudson, professor and Combest Chair of Agricultural Competitiveness, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Texas Tech University; (806) 742-1921ext. 272, or darren.hudson@ttu.edu.