AAI Vice President to Discuss Competition In Seed Industry at DOJ/USDA Workshop

AAI Vice President and Senior Fellow Diana Moss will be a panelist at the Department of Justice/U.S. Department of Agriculture first joint workshop on competition in agriculture on Friday in Ankeny, Iowa.  Dr. Moss will join other leading economists and seed industry experts on the Seed Competitive Dynamics Panel. The panel follows morning remarks by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney.

In a widely quoted White Paper published in October of 2009, Moss analyzed competition in the transgenic seed industry. The White Paper raised questions regarding the role of agricultural biotechnology firm Monsanto as the dominant player in the genetic traits markets and its potential to frustrate competition in soybeans, cotton, and corn. The AAI will shortly release an addendum that addresses additional competition issues in transgenic seed and flawed arguments contained in Monsanto’s response to the White Paper.

The AAI is hopeful that Friday’s public workshop will constructively advance the debate over competition in transgenic seed. Moss plans to emphasize several themes. One is the vital importance of the agricultural sector. Only competition can ensure continued innovation, food safety and security, and benefits to all stakeholders. A second issue is demonstrated problems such as complaints about high prices, antitrust violations, and an unclear pathway to generics. These collectively signal the need for policy intervention. Third, Monsanto’s potential use of its patent rights to improperly control or influence the development of rival trait technologies could impair competition and harm consumers through higher prices, less choice, and less innovation. Finally, the window for the first generic product is opening. But to facilitate the development of robust competition, specific policies are needed quickly.

All of these issues, Moss explained, “directly affect the health of the sector, the impact of innovation, and the prices and choices available to farmers and ultimate consumers of vitally important agricultural commodities.” Monsanto Vice President of Industry Affairs Jim Tobin will also be on Friday’s panel.

The workshop is the first of a series to explore competition in the agriculture sector. The schedule also includes farmer testimony and an enforcer roundtable discussion.

Download the complete press release and workshop agenda below.