US agricultural chemicals and seed conglomerate Monsanto yesterday reported second-quarter post-tax profits of US$421m before exceptional items, up 5% from the same period last year. Earnings per share rose by 3% to US$1.60, inching ahead of analysts’ forecasts. While currency fluctuation is likely to hold back sales growth in 2001 to between two and four percent, Monsanto expressed optimism that earnings would rise by nine to 13 percent.
Monsanto took the opportunity presented by the release of its results to indicate that US acreage planted with its GM crops will increase by some 11% to 80m acres this year. This ties in with a statement last month by the US Department of Agriculture that the overall acreage given over to GM crops would rise by 18% this year.
The biotech group said that its Round-Up Ready soybeans had performed particularly well and are likely to account for 69% of all soybean acreage in the US. Monsanto’s sales of GM corn are lagging some way behind, reporting a gain of just 1% in acreage to 17.5m acres.
The FT.com reported COO Hugh Grant as saying the group remained optimistic it would get a small amount of GM seed planted commercially this year in Brazil despite that country’s current moratorium on GM crops.
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World Agricultural Biotechnology: GMOs to 2004