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7-Business: Illinois Attorney General probes Monsanto pricing



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TITLE:  Illinois Attorney General Probes Monsanto Pricing
SOURCE: Reuters, by Carey Gillam
DATE:   21 Apr 2005

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Illinois Attorney General Probes Monsanto Pricing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monsanto Co.'s role in the US biotech seed business is
the subject of scrutiny by the Illinois Attorney General's office, the
agrochemical company said Wednesday.

Monsanto issued a statement saying it was cooperating with a subpoena
seeking information on pricing and licensing of its genetically modified
seeds. The company defended its market activities, which have been the
subject of rising complaint as its market influence has grown.

"We firmly believe that Monsanto has and continues to compete fairly in
establishing the value our innovations are bringing to our seed customers
and to farmers," General Counsel Charles W. Burson said in a statement.

The St. Louis-based company controls 100 percent of the market for certain
specialized soybean and corn seeds that have been genetically modified to
help farmers fight weeds, along with more than 80 percent of the market for
a corn that resists destructive insects. In all, Monsanto corn and beans
strains are planted annually on more than 70 million acres of US farmland.

Monsanto's reach has allowed it to implement double-digit price hikes for
seeds carrying its technology, actions that have angered farmers.

"It has been a sore spot over the years that US farmers have to pay what
they do," said Illinois Corn Growers spokesman Mark Lambert. "It is an
issue."

Indeed, last year Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta, the world's biggest
agrochemical company, filed a lawsuit accusing Monsanto of using coercive
tactics and unfair bundling arrangements since the 1990s to exercise
monopolistic power in multiple markets.

Meanwhile, Monsanto has continued to expand its dominance of the US seed
industry, making a series of acquisitions over the last several months.

Melissa Merz, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's office, said she
could not discuss the subpoena or what prompted it.

Monsanto shares were down 9 cents at $59.41 in midday New York Stock
Exchange trade.




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