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Broadening its legal feud with Syngenta AG, Monsanto Co. has filed two new lawsuits accusing its Swiss agribusiness rival of breach-of-contract and patent infringement — its third such action in less than three months. The St. Louis-based company on Tuesday asked a federal court in Rockford, Ill., to block Syngenta from developing, using and selling Roundup Ready corn seed, including Monsanto’s GA21 Roundup Ready variety. The filing in U.S. District Court in Rockford, Ill., alleges Syngenta infringed patents held by Monsanto’s DeKalb Genetics Corp. The breach-of-contract lawsuit, filed under seal Tuesday in a St. Louis County court, concerns a soybean license granted to Syngenta predecessor Ciba-Geigy Corp. Monsanto wants the court to end a license that allows Syngenta to sell soybeans genetically made resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. “There are obligations that all parties must respect in order to properly license these value-added biotechnology products,” said Carl Casale, Monsanto’s executive vice president. “Unfortunately, Syngenta has chosen not to live up to these obligations, so we must act to protect our rights and those of our other licensees.” Syngenta spokeswoman Sarah Hull said Wednesday that the company will vigorously defend itself against the lawsuits. “We are very confident about our position and that we are operating within the rights” of our agreements with Monsanto, she said. In May, Monsanto sued Syngenta in Delaware, asking a federal judge to permanently bar Syngenta from marketing so-called GA21 corn, arguing that Syngenta’s doing so would violate a Monsanto patent. Syngenta has said it had bought rights to some parts of the GA21 technology from Bayer CropScience — a unit of drug-making Bayer AG — and planned to use and market that commodity in the United States. Monsanto said those rights were never part of its deal with Bayer, so Syngenta has no claim to them. Syngenta has called the Delaware lawsuit groundless and suggested it would press ahead in using GA21 technology. “Our position then and still is that we’re confident we have the rights we need to commercialize the product,” Syngenta’s Hull said. In late morning trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange, Monsanto shares slipped 23 cents to $35.97, while Syngenta’s U.S.-traded shares were down 12 cents to $16.30. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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