WINNIPEG, Manitoba/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co (MON.N) is facing major threats to its historic dominance of seed and herbicide technology for the $40 billion U.S. soybean market.
Rivals BASF SE (BASFn.DE) and DowDuPont (DWDP.N) are preparing to push their own varieties of genetically modified soybeans. At stake is control over seed supply for the next generation of farmers producing the most valuable U.S. agricultural export.
The market has opened up as Monsanto’s Roundup Ready line of seeds - engineered to tolerate the weed killer glyphosate - has lost effectiveness as weeds develop their own tolerance to the chemical. Compounding the firm’s troubles is a national scandal over crop damage linked to its new soybean and herbicide pairing – Roundup Ready 2 Xtend seeds, engineered to resist the chemical dicamba.
The newly competitive sector has sown confusion across the U.S. farm belt, particularly among smaller firms that produce and sell seeds with technology licensed from the agrichemical giants.