Monsanto has GM crop plans for seed firm with GM in mind,3604,1397765,00.html
David Teather in New York
Tuesday January 25, 2005
The Guardian

Monsanto yesterday paid $1.4bn (£745m) to buy a fruit and vegetable seed
company and said it would look at the possibility of genetically modifying
the produce.

The company is known for its controversial innovations in genetic
modifications for crops such as soya beans and corn. Genetically modified
crops are flourishing in the US but have caused an outcry elsewhere.

The deal will speed up Monsanto's move into the seed market and extend its
reach further into Europe and Asia, where the company, Seminis, does a
large part of its business.

Monsanto, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is buying Seminis from a private
equity firm for $1bn in cash and assuming a further $400m in debt.

Monsanto chairman Hugh Grant said the acquisition had been designed to
capitalise on the trend toward healthier eating habits, which has driven
growth in the fruit and vegetable markets. Seminis supplies more than 3,500
seed varieties to commercial fruit and vegetable growers in 150 countries.
Its top sellers are tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Monsanto said it would initially pursue the Seminis strategy of developing
products with longer shelf lives and less need for agricultural chemicals
through conventional advanced breeding techniques. The option of later
genetically engineering the seeds though will cause a chill among

"In the near-to-mid term this is going to be about breeding," Mr Grant
said. "In the long term, there may be an opportunity in biotechnology."

Monsanto is shifting its work away from the herbicide chemical business,
where competition has depressed prices, and further into the seed industry.
Its losses narrowed in the first quarter to $40m from $97m a year ago.
Revenues in the quarter were 7% higher at $1.1bn. The company has around
14% of the US corn seed market.

The European commission approved the first genetically modified seeds for
planting and sale across the continent, including Britain, in September,
despite widespread resistance from the public.

The approval was a significant victory for Monsanto, the company behind the
17 varieties of maize seed.

The EU is seeking to expand the biotech market after a six-year moratorium
on new genetically modified crops as well as easing a transatlantic trade

Seminis is currently privately owned, with the majority stake held by funds
managed by Fox Paine & Company of San Francisco. Fox Paine bought control
from Mexican conglomerate Savia in 2002 for $650m.

"The addition of Seminis will be an excellent fit for our company as global
production of vegetables and fruit, and the trend toward healthier diets,
has been growing steadily over the past several years," Mr Grant said.

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