Roundup herbicide research shows plant, soil problems

 The heavy use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide appears to be causing harmful changes in soil and potentially hindering yields of the genetically modified crops that farmers are cultivating, a government scientist said on Friday. Repeated use of the chemical glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup herbicide, impacts the root structure of plants, and 15 years of research indicates that the chemical could be causing fungal root disease, said Bob Kremer, a microbiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service.

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Monsanto plans farm trials for drought-tolerant corn

Monsanto Co. will begin farm trials of its drought-tolerant corn seed next spring, marking the global seed giant's first roll-out of seeds genetically engineered for harsh environmental conditions. The introduction comes as drought and searing heat this summer have withered crops across the U.S. South. The new biotech corn seed still needs water to grow healthy plants, but is designed to use moisture more efficiently, said Monsanto global corn technology lead Dusty Post.

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Monsanto eyes Brazil, China for strong growth

As head of the world's largest seed company, Monsanto Chairman Hugh Grant is on a global quest for growth. And with the U.S.-based company's footprint firmly planted in the United States, that pursuit has turned south. South America, particularly Brazil, is a top growth target now, Grant said in an interview with Reuters this week. Friendly regulators, an influx of public and private investment into Brazilian agriculture and a population of farmers eager to help feed a hungry world are among the factor spurring the agricultural conglomerate to intensify its efforts there, Grant said.

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Monsanto launching its first biotech sweet corn

Monsanto Co. is preparing to launch a genetically altered sweet corn, marking the global seed company's first commercial combination of its biotechnology with a consumer-oriented vegetable product. The sweet corn seed, which will be available to farmers this fall, has been genetically altered to tolerate treatment of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, and to fight off insects that might attack the plants, said Consuelo Madere, Monsanto vice president of the company's global vegetable business.

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Monsanto earnings jump, shares rise

Global agribusiness company Monsanto Co (MON.N) posted a nearly 80 percent jump in net income on Wednesday due to strong sales in its core seeds and genetic traits businesses. Shares rose nearly 5 percent as the market applauded the company's sales strength in the United States and Latin America and an expanded earnings outlook for the full year. Total sales of Monsanto's specialized corn, soybean, cotton and other seeds and traits rose 12 percent to $2.6 billion in the quarter.

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Billions needed to boost food production, says DuPont committee

High-tech seeds and innovations in chemicals and farming will not be enough to solve looming food shortages for the world, according to a report issued Tuesday by a committee formed by food and chemicals conglomerate DuPont. Billions of dollars in private investment, government incentives and charitable work must be funneled into collaborative projects if global food production is to match growing demand, the report urged.

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“Frothy” U.S. farmland values sideline some investors

Rising prices for farmland in the U.S. Midwest and fears that values may be creating an artificial bubble are driving some investors to the sidelines, though strong farm balance sheets are sustaining interest in many sectors, investment experts said on Monday. Surging prices for key row crops, such as corn, soybeans and wheat, are helping support rising values that jumped more than 10 percent in the U.S. Midwest last year and have continued to climb. But if crop prices should plummet, land values could fall rapidly.

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Cancer cause or crop aid? Herbicide faces big test

Critics say it's a chemical that could cause infertility or cancer, while others see it speeding the growth of super weeds and causing worrying changes to plants and soil. Backers say it is safe and has made a big contribution to food production. It's glyphosate, the key - but controversial - ingredient in Roundup herbicide and the top selling weed killer used worldwide. For more than 30 years, glyphosate has been embraced for its ability to make farming easier by wiping out weeds in corn, soybean and cotton fields, and for keeping gardens and golf courses pristine.

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Monsanto quarterly net income jumps 15 percent

Monsanto Co reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on strong sales of corn seed for spring planting and improved margins, but its shares fell more than 4 percent as the global agribusiness failed to raise its outlook for the full year. Officials at the world's largest seed company said the results were strong and showed Monsanto was on track with a strategic plan focused on steady growth in key crops. "We feel good about where we stand," said Chairman Hugh Grant. "I believe we are getting done what we needed to achieve in 2011."

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Organic farmers sue, seek protection from Monsanto

A consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers filed suit against global seed giant Monsanto Co. on Tuesday, in a move to protect themselves from what they see as a growing threat in the company's arsenal of genetically modified crops. The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed the suit on behalf of more than 50 organizations challenging the agricultural giant's patents on its genetically modified seeds. The group is seeking a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm.

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