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7-Business: Monsanto loses USD 165 million in third quarter

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                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news --------------------------------

TITLE:  Monsanto loses $165m in Q3
SOURCE: Associated Press
DATE:   Oct 31, 2002

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Monsanto loses $165m in Q3

US (October 31, 2002) - Monsanto Co.'s loss widened in the third quarter, 
largely because of reduced sales of its Roundup herbicide, the company said 
Wednesday. Monsanto lost $165 million, or 63 cents per share, in the 
quarter ending Sept. 30, compared to a loss of $45 million, or 17 cents per 
share, a year ago. Sales fell 27 percent to $679 million from $936 million 
a year ago. Excluding onetime items, Monsanto lost 56 cents a share. 
Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting a loss of 57 cents a 
share. Earlier this month, Monsanto revised down its forecast for earnings 
for the third quarter and for all of 2002, citing a continued decline in 
sales of Roundup herbicide in the U.S. as well as lower than expected sales 
in Argentina.

The agricultural products company said third-quarter results were expected 
to be 54 cents to 59 cents a share for the quarter excluding special items. 
Analysts then were looking for a loss of 13 cents a share in the third 
quarter. Unusually dry weather in the Midwest and drought conditions in the 
Plains reduced the growth of weeds and, as a result, the need for 
herbicides through the summer and early fall, Monsanto has said. Also, in 
June, Monsanto announced efforts to reduce the risks of doing business in 
Latin America, particularly Brazil and Argentina, reducing earnings in the 
short term.

Monsanto president and chief executive Hendrik A. Verfaillie said that 
while the changes in Latin America resulted in lower sales and earnings, 
"it's also improving cash generation. We also made good progress on our 
cost management efforts." Monsanto's products include Roundup, the world's 
best-selling herbicide, the Roundup Ready family of seeds and other 
genetically modified seeds. For the first nine months, Monsanto lost $1.75 
billion, or $6.67 per share, compared to a profit of $399 million, or $1.51 
per share, a year ago. Sales for the nine months declined 19 percent to 
$3.45 billion from $4.25 billion.

                                  PART II
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TITLE:  Maryland farmer wonders whether Roundup residue played role in low
        yielding legumes, greens
SOURCE: CropChoice, USA, by Robert Schubert
DATE:   Oct 28, 2002

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Maryland farmer wonders whether Roundup residue played role in low yielding 
legumes, greens

(Monday, Oct. 28, 2002 -- CropChoice news) -- Jay Martin's first clue came 
early last summer when he noticed the morning glories. The first runners 
looked healthy, but others were shriveled and dying.

"I figure when you see weeds suffering, something is really wrong," says 
Martin, who grows leafy greens, legumes, potatoes and fruit without the use 
of synthetic pesticides or fertilizers on his Provident Farm near 
Salisbury, on the eastern shore of Maryland.

Unfortunately for Martin, the problem grew beyond the weeds. It was the 
same story with his leafy greens, peas and string beans-- poor germination, 
low yields and ill looking plants.

All of this played out on a small portion of 10 acres that he had acquired 
prior to the start of the 2002 growing season. The acreage had been part of 
a large soybean operation. In the last 8 years before retirement, the 
farmer had relied exclusively on Roundup to kill weeds in his fields. That 
probably meant he applied the herbicide before the soybeans sprouted and 
after harvest. In later years, Martin says the farmer grew Roundup Ready 
soybeans, which Monsanto genetically engineered to resist glyphosate, the 
active ingredient in Roundup. That would have allowed the farmer to spray 
the weed killer during the growing season without harming the soybean 

Martin wonders whether glyphosate residue in the soil might have caused the 
agronomic problems on the ground that he hopes will one day be certified as 

Poor growth characterized all of the kale, collards, and cabbage he planted 
late in the winter for harvest in the spring. Cabbage weighed half a pound, 
far below the normal weight of 4 to 5 pounds.

He also sowed string beans on his newly acquired ground. The lower foliage 
on all the plants turned yellow around the time of flowering and they were 
stunted -- only 8 inches tall. Three pickings yielded a total of 36 pounds 
instead of the usual average of 160 pounds.

Stumped, Martin tested the soil. After taking an initial sample, he added 
compost and lime, and then sampled the ground again. The first soil 
specimen revealed low nitrogen and low Ph, with an organic matter content 
of 2 percent. The second, post-amendment sample showed organic matter of 
4.5 percent with a ph of 6.4; he also fed kelp to the foliage. A 
horticultural specialist from the University of Maryland extension service 
looked at both soil tests but had no explanation for the condition of the 

Alas, this did not markedly improve the situation. "The fertility was 
there," he says. "It think it just was not available to the crops because 
of the non-existence of soil microorganisms that convert it to a useable 

Although a drought was happening at the time, Martin irrigates. And in 
later plantings, with adequate soil moisture, the problems persisted.

Finally, he resorted to sidedressing plants with bloodmeal. But it wasn't 
until applying twice the recommended rate that he finally saw results in 
his last planting of string beans. That 200-foot row yielded 120 pounds of 
beans, still below the average of 160 pounds. Later fall plantings of leafy 
greens are doing well where he doubled the dosage of the fertilizer.

"I attribute this to the bloodmeal and the duration of time since Roundup 
was last applied, probably about 15 months now," he says. "Bloodmeal is one 
of the fastest acting, most readily accessible forms of nitrogen that 
organic growers can use. I see it as a rescue operation. The goal in 
organic farming, of course, is to build the soil and not to have to perform 
rescue operations. This is the organic equivalent of the nitrogen that 
chemical farmers use."

Martin compared tomatoes -- same variety and planting date -- on ground 
that he's worked for 16 years with those on his agronomically challenged 
area. The plants close to home bested the others by three times, both in 
terms of the number of weeks they bore fruit and the amount of saleable 

The unconventional scoop on Roundup, a supposedly safe herbicide.

Caroline Cox, staff scientist with the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives 
to Pesticides, has studied and written about Roundup, including the 
persistence of its active ingredient, glyphosate.

"Long persistence has been measured in the following studies: 55 days on an 
Oregon Coast Range forestry site; 249 days on Finnish agricultural soils; 
between 259 and 296 days on eight Finnish forestry sites; 335 days on an 
Ontario (Canada) forestry site...and from 1 to 3 years on eleven Swedish 
forestry sites. EPA's Ecological Effect's Branch wrote, 'In summary, this 
herbicide is extremely persistent under typical application conditions,'" 
according to her paper in the Fall 1998 issue of the Journal of Pesticide 
Reform (Vol 18, no. 3), available at

Roundup can harm humans and sour agronomic performance. Farmers exposed to 
it have experienced increased risk of miscarriages, premature births, and 
cancer. It can kill the beneficial insects that feed on agricultural pests, 
Cox says. In lab experiments, glyphosate reduced the activity of 
mycorrhizal fungi in the soil around plant roots, inhibited plants' ability 
to fix nitrogen, and decreased their defenses against pests.

The "use of genetically-engineered glyphosate-tolerant crop plants means 
that nitrogen-fixing bacteria in field situations 'could be affected by 
repeated applications of glyphosate,'" Cox wrote.

More recent studies of Roundup Ready soybeans have uncovered some glitches.

Not only does glyphosate inhibit normal root function, and thus yields, a 
University of Missouri team found increased levels of Fusarium species 
after Roundup applications. One species, Fusarium solani, is a catalyst in 
the Sudden Death Syndrome that is a growing problem in some Midwestern 

"The Missouri researchers' work shows that "Fusarium levels tend to build 
up in fields treated year to year with Roundup, an increasingly common 
occurrence as both RR soybeans and RR corn gain popularity. This suggests 
that something related to the root exudates or crop residues in RR fields 
may be having a sustained effect on soil microbial community dynamics, 
perhaps through the mix of compounds in leaf and root tissues that remain 
after the crop is harvested and break down in the soil over many months 
post-harvest," wrote Charles Benbrook, Ph.d. in his May 2001 report, 
"Troubled Times Amid Commercial Success for Roundup Ready Soybeans: 
Glyphosate Efficacy is Slipping and Unstable Transgene Expression Erodes 
Plant Defenses and Yields." (

Does Caroline Cox think Roundup caused the problems on Martin's farm? "It's 
not an unreasonable hypothesis, although the necessary kind of 
investigation and data collection hasn't been done."

As for University of Maryland officials, they didn't believe it and were 
unwilling to study the problem further. Monsanto says Roundup is safe, one 
of the most benign herbicides available. The farmer who grew soybeans, both 
conventional and genetically engineered Roundup-resistant types, on the 
acreage couldn't be reached to comment on whether he saw progressively 
declining yields after applying Roundup.

Martin has a suggestion for any grower attempting to convert land sprayed 
with Roundup: "If you're unable to put in a cover crop in the fall or not 
willing to spend a lot of money on expensive bloodmeal, do not attempt a 
spring crop. Instead, wait until the following fall after a heavy 
application of compost and a summer cover crop."


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