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Argentina farmers ask state to intervene in Monsanto soy fight

BUENOS AIRES - About 100 sign-waving Argentine farmers protested in front the country's CNDC competitiveness authority on Friday, urging the government to back them in their fight with Monsanto Co over rights pertaining the company's Intacta soyb...

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BUENOS AIRES - About 100 sign-waving Argentine farmers protested in front the country's CNDC competitiveness authority on Friday, urging the government to back them in their fight with Monsanto Co over rights pertaining the company's Intacta soybeans.

Growers in the world's No. 3 soy exporter object to the U.S. seed giant ordering exporters to inspect their cargos for Intacta beans that the farmers did not directly pay for.

"We are not going to hesitate to take more actions over the days ahead to press the state into action on this very serious and urgent problem," Omar Príncipe, head of a farm group called the Argentine Agrarian Federation, told reporters.

Soy harvesting season starts late this month. Farmers are expected to collect 58 million metric tons of beans by the end of the 2015-16 crop year.

"The technology and licensing system provides incremental benefits to Argentine farmers and fully complies with relevant Argentine laws," Monsanto said in a statement.

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"The recognition of intellectual property rights is key for maintaining the agricultural innovation cycle across the industry and to attract the necessary investment to support the continuous introduction of new technologies," it said.

The Argentine Rural Society, or SRA, which represent medium- to large-scale producers, last month filed a complaint before the National Commission for the Defense of Competition, or CNDC. The SRA argues that under local law farmers must pay for Monsanto technology only at the time they originally buy seeds.

The company wants them to pay royalties for planting any seeds that contain Intacta technology. Monsanto has agreements with exporters to inspect soy cargoes for undocumented Intacta beans. Farm groups against the inspection.

Last month the company said it was sure CNDC would rule in its favor.

Farmers are lobbying the administration of President Mauricio Macri, who was elected in November on an open-markets platform and has reduced soybean export taxes, to take the position that private companies should not be in charge of monitoring crops and checking documentation for Intacta beans.

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