The National Cotton Council (NCC) joined with the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the American Soybean Association (ASA) on a letter to congressional members expressing concerns with the Seed Availability and Competition Act of '04 (H.R. 4693) introduced by Rep. Kaptur (D-OH).

The bill would require people who seek to retain seed harvested from the planting of patented seeds to register with the Secretary of Agriculture and pay fees set by the secretary for retaining the seed. USDA would then pass the technology fees on to the appropriate patent holders.

The letter stated the bill would: 1) change the current marketplace-driven system to a government-administered program, and 2) eliminate the incentive for seed companies to invest in the long-term research and development necessary to deliver enhanced seed attributes.

“Furthermore, we are concerned that the government-administered program, contemplated under the bill, would disrupt farmer and company compliance with important insect resistance management and channeling requirements,” the letter stated.

The bill also proposes imposing tariffs on U.S. imports of products derived from biotech seed if royalties charged in the U.S. are higher than royalties charged for biotech seed exported and purchased in a foreign country.

“This system is unworkable and it would put the U.S. in violation of its World Trade Organization obligations, potentially exposing our country to retaliatory actions by our trading partners,” the letter warned.