MONSANTO'S commitment to broadly license its biotechnology to a wide range of seed companies will ultimately give farmers new biotech traits in varieties from company brands they already know.

Currently, Monsanto licenses its Roundup Ready® soybeans, YieldGard® corn and Roundup Ready corn to more than 200 companies, which are authorized to develop, produce and sell varieties with the Monsanto biotech traits. Monsanto is also licensing its Bollgard® and Roundup Ready genes to several cottonseed companies.

“In trying to come up with a marketing strategy for soybeans, corn and cotton, it quickly became apparent that farmers prefer to buy their seed in the brands of their choice,” says Steve Joehl (pronounced Yale), Monsanto's director of soybean licensing.

“If we came out with limited distribution of a few brands, farmers might be forced to buy brands with which they're unfamiliar,” says Joehl.

Dave Rhylander, director of marketing for Monsanto's southern region, says the commitment will mean more choices for Southern farmers who grow corn and cotton.

“In corn, there's not been a lot of biotechnology available to Southern growers because it's been geared more to northern varieties,” Rhylander says. “With Monsanto going through the Corn States group, small seed corn companies that are dedicated to the Southern farmer and Southern varieties will be able to get the traits into their genetics. It's going to open up more opportunity for the Southern farmer.”

In addition to larger firms, Terral Seed, Inc., and Triumph Seeds are among the Southern seed corn companies who have licensing agreements with Monsanto for the Roundup Ready and the YieldGard gene in corn.

On the cotton front, Aventis has entered into a licensing agreement with Monsanto to use the Bollgard, Roundup/Bollgard, and Roundup Ready genes in its FiberMax varieties. Farmers want the FiberMax seed because of the high-quality fiber it produces, said Rhylander.

For cotton growers in west Texas, All-Tex will have a stripper Roundup Ready variety out soon. South Texas Planting Seed of Mercedes, Texas also has a licensing agreement with Monsanto to put biotech traits into its varieties.

“Farmers in west Texas will have more choices than they've had in the past,” Rhylander says.

Monsanto has issued 20 licenses for corn varieties containing its biotechnology traits to seed companies that will be selling hybrids in the South in 2002, says Jerry L. Flint, Southern regional marketing manager for Monsanto.

“All of these companies have a good supply of 115-day corn varieties containing the Roundup Ready gene,” says Flint. “We're very excited about the opportunities we see in the corn market for the South.”

In cotton, Delta and Pine Land views the licensing agreement as a winning situation for Southern farmers. “It allows us to put the technology genes, specifically Bollgard and Roundup Ready genes, into our elite germplasm,” says Randy Dismuke, Delta and Pineland senior vice president in charge of the company's U.S. operations.

Three things, says Joehl, determine the success of Monsanto's business: “How good the trait is; how good are the genetics in it; and the representation of the trait. Monsanto's job is to get the good trait. The other companies are doing a great job getting the traits into their genetics.”

Always read and follow label directions. Roundup® brand herbicides will kill plants that do not contain the Rounup Ready gene. Roundup®, Roundup Ready®, YieldGard®, Bollgard® and Roundup UltraMAX are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. Bladex® is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours Company. Buctril® is a registered trademark of Aventis CropScience USA, Inc. Paymaster®, Deltapine® and Sure-Grow® are registered trademarks of Delta and Pine Land Company. ©2001 Monsanto Company.