Monsanto launches new soybean breeding site

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Monsanto

Biotech giant Monsanto has invested in a new soybean breeding
facility designed to develop and test new varieties of the bean,
the firm announced this week.

Located in Harrisburg, South Dakota, the new facility will also test soybean varieties containing traits in various stages of pre-commercial advancement in the company's product pipeline.

The move comes just a few months after Monsanto opened an adjacent corn breeding facility.

"Farmers in the Dakotas have been leading adopters of biotech-improved soybeans. This new facility further supports their adoption and growth in acreage during the past decade. Harrisburg is an ideal location, and we look forward to serving our customers with this new facility,"​ said Mike Hawbaker, Monsanto North America soybean breeding lead.

The Harrisburg center will house equipment and facilities for research, but growers in the state will also have a chance to be involved in the testing process, said the firm.

According to Hawbaker, the company will likely lease acreage from local growers near Harrisburg and throughout the state to test new varieties.

"Monsanto is committed to making a positive difference in agriculture through the use of technical innovation,"​ said Ted Crosbie, Monsanto vice president of global breeding.

"This pair of new facilities in Harrisburg bolsters that commitment for the farmers who are working to meet the world's growing food requirements, and for consumers who desire wholesome, plentiful food and a healthy environment. It is also further evidence of Monsanto's commitment to farmers and customers in the Dakotas,"​ he added.

The new 17,500-square-foot site will have an initial permanent staff of two and a seasonal staff of up to 10 part-time employees.

According to South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds, Monsanto's plans in this area - coming so soon after the opening of its corn breeding facility in June - has positive implications for the state's biotech and agricultural industries, which he hopes will be boosted by further investments following Monsanto's lead.

Last month Monsanto reported a dip in its fourth quarter profits, after a disappointing performance from its soybean and seeds business.

The agricultural products firm saw fourth quarter sales of soybean seeds and traits drop to $27m, compared to $62m in the previous year. The company's sales of other crop seeds and traits also fell to $138m, compared to $154m last year.

This brought total sales for Monsanto's seeds and Genomics business down to $532m, from $545m in the company's fourth quarter last year.

The company said the lower results were partly a result of a higher percentage of its annual sales in the first nine months of 2006, compared with sales in the same period in 2005.

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