In a major settlement involving one of the first biotechnology patents ever applied for, Monsanto Co. has agreed to pay the University of California an upfront royalty of $100 million plus ongoing royalties that could easily double that amount, to resolve claims that the agribusiness giant infringed on the University's DNA patent used to make a dairy cow growth hormone. The settlement was reached a day before trial.
The patent, originally sought in 1979, covers a form of recombinant DNA to produce bovine growth hormone protein now sold under the Monsanto brand name POSILAC bovine somatotropin. The hormone increases dairy cow milk production between 10-30 percent. About 30 percent of dairy cows in America are given somatotropin and it is expected to become an increasing factor in dairy farming in developing countries.