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7-Business: Stines Seed challenges Monsanto for dominance in the South of the U.S.

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Soybean genetics company challenges Monsanto for dominance in
        the South
SOURCE: The Commercial Appeal, USA, by Jane Roberts
DATE:   13 Aug 2005

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Soybean genetics company challenges Monsanto for dominance in the South

Stine Seed Co., the king of soybean and corn genetics in the Midwest, is
rolling its influence down the river in an all-out biogenetic race.

"Up north," as seed representative Jim Craig says, "we have about 60
percent of the genetics for soybeans. In the South, we've got 10 percent
if we're lucky.

"That's why were here," he told a visitor Friday as a tour bus of about
70 farmers and seed dealers was loading for a look at Stine's genetic
work in a plot it leases outside Marion, Ark.

"We've been here two years," Craig said. "We're trying to get the word out."

Word already out all over the soybean-planting universe is that Stine has
patented a gene capable of going head-to-head with Monsanto in the
glyposphate-tolerance market, a niche Monsanto created in 1996 when it
introduced genetically modified seeds that produce crops resistant to Roundup.

Glyposphate -- the generic term for Roundup -- is an herbicide. With the
altered seed, farmers can spray for weeds after the crop is up, killing
the weeds but not the crop.

The result is cleaner fields and fewer chemicals, which gives farmers
intangibles like "peace of mind and more free time," said Alan Blaine,
agronomist at Mississippi State University.

"Everybody out there is hoping for a competitor," he said. "I have a good
feeling this is the one. If Stine succeeds, they will be the one."

Syngenta is also in the race. Insiders say whoever gets there first has
agreed to share licensing fees with the other.

In the meantime, Stine is quietly breeding varieties on 220 acres of test
plots it has leased within the last two years across the Mississippi
Delta, selecting plants resistant to Mid-South bugs and diseases so it
will have South-hardy varieties ready to roll when its "event" is
approved in the United States, Europe and Japan, perhaps as early as 2008.

"I was impressed with what I saw at the test plot. This is not a fly-by-
night operation," said Greg St. Amour from JGL Inc., a crop genetic
company in Indiana.

"Stine's poured several million dollars into these test plots, which is a
big commitment."

It's no coincidence, he said, that Stine's breeding plots are across I-55
from the Monsanto-owned Asgrow plot.

"It's to let Monsanto know."

Monsanto did not return a phone call.

In the Mid-South, more than 90 percent of soybean farmers plant some
version of the Monsanto-altered seed. But resentment runs just about as
high because Monsanto, which owns all rights to the product, is also
perceived as holding farmers over a barrel.

Farmers say Monsanto's "technology fee" alone has nearly tripled to $13
per 50-pound bag of soybean seed, enough to plant one acre.

"The big rub is that with the patented varieties of seed, you can't save
the seed," Blaine said.

"A lot of the old farmers remember when you could. They say they can sell
their crop for $6.50 a bushel but they pay $30 for a bag of seed."

What Stine is doing with its test plots and alliance with Stuttgart,
Ark.-based Stratton Seed Co., is getting "its name out there," he said.

"When their event gets approval, they'll already have a loyal following."

From what he saw Friday, Robert Hayes, a soybean farmer in Marston, Mo.,
is planning to to plant his first Stine beans next year.

"They do a lot of research, which puts the best bean out there for me to
plant. The bottom line is it means more dollars."

--Chief executive: Harry Stine
--Address: 2225 Laredo Trail, Adel, Iowa
--Web site:
--Business: Stine annually develops and tests nearly 1 million soybean


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