7-Business: Monsanto fighting for market control
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-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------
TITLE: A) Monsanto of the US buys all of Sensako
B) Monsanto reaches deal on GM crop
SOURCE: A) Business Day, South Africa, by Louise Cook
B) Australian Financial Review, by Cathy Bolt
edited and sent by Agnet, Canada
DATE: A) December 14, 2000
B) December 15, 2000
------------------ archive: http://www.gene.ch/genet.html ------------------
A) Monsanto of the US buys all of Sensako
Life science group snaps up remaining 49% of SA company
SOUTH African agricultural business Sensako became a wholly owned
subsidiary of US life science group Monsanto yesterday. Monsanto runs a
$66m business in SA, 40% of which is crop chemicals, 47% seed sales and the
remainder, biotechnology. Monsanto bought out a remaining 49% shareholding
in Sensako for an undisclosed amount after the US-listed company obtained a
majority shareholding in Sensako last year.
The move bears out an increasing trend among local agricultural companies
to link up with large overseas concerns to be able to survive international
competition and operate in globalised farm markets.
Sensako, which was formed as a seed co-operative in 1959, transformed
itself into a company two years ago. One of its key strategic decisions at
the time was to attract overseas capital and link up with a major
international investor with the view of remaining firmly entrenched in the
technology race, former Sensako MD Willie Maree said. Monsanto, a world
leader in biotechnology and the development of genetically modified seed,
pursued the deal with Sensako as, among others, a way of bringing
biotechnology into SA and Africa.
Monsanto has operations in another 28 African countries. Two years ago it
introduced genetically modified maize and cotton seed for commercial
production in SA for the first time. It had already broken into 44% of the
genetically modified cotton seed market among small-scale black farmers in
In January, Monsanto is set to open SA's first R5,5m seed drier in
Lichtenburg in North West. The in-taking facility would reduce the risk of
crop damage to the farmer and means that new improved maize cultivars would
now be able to come off the field between 60 to 90 days earlier than before.
"The acquisition of Sensako will contribute to Monsanto's commitment to
investing in SA agriculture and delivering state-of-the-art technology to
farmers, enabling them to compete in the world market," Monsanto director
Dave Westphal said. "Through total shareholding, Monsanto can now expand
its services to SA farmers and to farmers in the whole of Africa."
Maree said all Sensako minority shareholders mostly farmers approved of the
buy-out. Sensako is not listed, but the farmers obtained unlisted shares in
Sensako when the co-operative became a company.
Westphal said Monsanto would continue to seek partnerships with
agricultural co-operatives world wide. "In a country like SA where no white
maize seed can be imported, it is imperative that we consistently provide a
reliable service in terms of quality production and distribution to
Maree was offered an as yet undisclosed senior management position in the
new company. He said the two existing brand names, Sensako and Carnia,
would remain unchanged and Sensako's headquarters would move from Brits to
Johannesburg. Monsanto also recently became part of the US pharmaceutical
company, Pharmacia. In SA, it commands 45% of the maize seed market and
almost all of market in wheat seed.
B) Monsanto reaches deal on GM crop
Monsanto has, according to this story, struck an agreement with regulatory
authorities to resolve an embarrassing over-planting this season of its
pest-resistant cotton, Ingard, Australia's first genetically modified crop.
The story says that bungle resulted in about 20,000 more hectares of Ingard
being planted than the 165,000 ha maximum approved by the National
Registration Authority for Agriculture and Veterinary Chemicals.
But the NRA has now agreed to Monsanto's request for a variation to the
ceiling, raising it to 180,000ha. That follows extra steps taken by
Monsanto to reduce a potential build-up of insect resistance to Ingard, the
main reason for limiting the area planted to about 30 per cent of total
cotton plantings. These include extra planting of insect refuge crops such
as unsprayed cotton and other plants attractive to the target heliothis
bug. Monsanto has also paid farmers to plough in several thousand hectares
of crop to bring the area back to the new ceiling.
The story adds that though Monsanto volunteered the breach to the NRA, the
breakdown in controls is ill-timed for those trying to rebuild community
confidence in the regulatory system for transgenic technology. It follows
several incidents this year when Monsanto and Aventis failed to properly
dispose of seed and trash from field trials of GM crops.
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