Commentary: Monsanto’s Legal Strategy in Argentina from a Human Rights Perspective

Author: Mirka Fries, Andres Lopez Cabello, Santiago Sanchez, Published on: 9 August 2019

On 16 April 2019, the Supreme Court of Argentina rejected a claim filed by Monsanto, seeking patent protection for genetically modified (GM) seeds in Argentina. The decision is based on article 35 of the Argentine Patents and Utility Model Law No. 24.481 (Patent Law), which stipulates that any patent granted under this law shall have a non-renewable term of 20 years, starting from the filing date of the application. Monsanto had filed its claim in February 1996, i.e., more than 22 years ago. Without getting into the substantive issues of the legal action, the Supreme Court decided to dismiss Monsanto’s claim on the basis of the expiration of the maximum possible period of validity of a patent.

Eight months before the Supreme Court decision, in August 2018, the Buenos Aires-based Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales(Center for Legal and Social Studies, CELS) and the Movimiento Nacional Campesino Indígena (National Indigenous Peasant Movement, MNCI) had filed a petition to be considered as amicus curiae to the Supreme Court. The petition alerted the Court to the negative impacts that a decision in favour of Monsanto was likely to have on the rights of peasants, local communities, indigenous peoples and the native biodiversity in Argentina.

The current piece, which follows the line of argument taken in the amicus petition, was finalized shortly before the Supreme Court’s decision. Nevertheless, as the judges in their finding refrained from ruling on the substantive matter of Monsanto’s request – the patentability of GM seeds under Argentine law – and in light of current political debates and developments, the critical reflections in this piece seem to be more relevant than ever before...

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Related companies: Bayer Monsanto (part of Bayer)