Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto Co. have entered into an agreement that they say promises to provide cotton, corn and soybean farmers with more options on their herbicide- and insecticide-resistant crops.

The companies said they would cross license intellectual property and product licenses in cotton, corn and soybeans on a non-exclusive basis. They also said they plan to drop their long-standing legal disputes over which was the first to invent synthetic Bt genes and the Cry 1F gene.

The agreement gives Dow royalty-bearing rights to create and license finished hybrids which combine Monsanto’s roundup Ready Corn 2 technology with Dow’s Herculex I and Herculex Extra technologies to licensees of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Corn 2.

Monsanto also receives a commercial license for Dow AgroSciences Widestrike insect protection technology in South America and Mexico.

“At Dow AgroSciences, we're focused on bringing new solutions like Herculex and Widestrike insect resistant traits to our customers, and this agreement is another step in expediting innovation,” said Jerome Peribere, president and chief executive officer, Dow AgroSciences, in a press release jointly issued by the companies.

“The key to this agreement was that our companies were able to focus on our farmer customers and deliver an outcome that will offer them tremendous benefits and choice in the seasons ahead,” said Hugh Grant, Monsanto's president and chief executive officer.

“This agreement will provide farmers with greater access to new technology offerings and trait combinations with the industry's leading weed control system in Roundup Ready. This agreement is expected to be another important contributor to the growth of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology in the coming seasons."

Under the agreement:

– Dow and Monsanto will cross license intellectual property and product licenses in corn and soybeans on a non-exclusive basis. Dow received a commercial license to certain Monsanto seed stock and biotechnology traits for both corn and soybeans. In addition, Dow receives royalty-bearing rights to create and license finished hybrids, which combine Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2 technology with Dow's Herculex I and Herculex Xtra technologies, to licensees of Monsanto's Roundup Ready Corn 2.

Dow and Monsanto also established cross licenses of cotton technologies on a non-exclusive basis. Dow's license includes Monsanto's patent estate for cotton transformation. Monsanto's license includes the patent estate for glyphosate tolerant cotton of Mycogen Plant Sciences Inc., an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences. Dow receives the intellectual property licenses for the commercialization of its Widestrike insect protection technology.

Monsanto receives the intellectual property licenses related to its Bollgard, Bollgard II, Roundup Ready and Roundup Ready Flex technologies. Monsanto also receives a commercial license for Widestrike technology in South America and Mexico.

Dow and Monsanto also established non-exclusive cross licenses of certain enabling technologies. Dow's license includes Monsanto's patent estate for synthetic Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt technology. Monsanto's license includes the patent estate for Bt in plants owned by Mycogen.

On the legal front, Mycogen has agreed to withdraw its appeal related to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's determination that Monsanto scientists were the first to invent synthetic Bt genes. Monsanto agreed to withdraw its appeal that Mycogen scientists were first to invent the Cry1F gene.

Monsanto was the first company to commercially introduce cotton varieties containing the Bt gene transferred from a naturally occurring soul bacterium in 1996. Mycogen has claimed in court documents that it developed its Cry 1F about the same time. Its gene, called Widestrike, is being included in new cotton varieties that will be marketed under the Phytogen brand.