The Justice Department requested information from seed manufacturer Monsanto Company about its soybean trait business, the company announced this morning.
Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona confirmed that the agency is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices in the seed industry.
The agency issued a request, known as a civil investigative demand, seeking information about access that Monsanto will provide to certain soybean technology once the patent on that technology runs out, the company said.
“Monsanto continues to cooperate with the U.S. Department of Justice inquiries, just as we have over the last several months,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s Chief Deputy General Counsel, said in a statement. “We respect the thorough regulatory process. We believe our business practices are fair, pro-competitive and in compliance with the law.”
Also in the statement, the company said it has provided “extensive access to millions of pages of documents to ensure that regulators’ questions are addressed.”
The announcement comes amidst a DOJ review about competition issues in the agriculture industry. Monsanto rival E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company filed a report with the Justice Department last week asking the agency to curtail what it deemed Monsanto’s “anticompetitive practices”.
Tensions between the two rivals have been simmering for years.