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Monsanto Company : Monsanto to Invest $355 Million in Argentina Corn-Seed Plant

06/15/2012 | 06:01pm US/Eastern

BUENOS AIRES--Agricultural-biotech-company Monsanto Co. (MON) plans to invest 1.6 billion pesos ($355 million) to build a new corn-seed-production plant in Argentina, the company said in a press release Friday.

The plant will be in the heart of the country's corn belt in Cordoba province, with construction expected to be wrapped up in December 2013, the company said.

Monsanto already has a massive facility for producing corn seed in Buenos Aires province. That plant and the new Cordoba facility will be the largest of their kind in the world, Monsanto said.

Monsanto is banking on higher sales in Argentina, Brazil and Central and Eastern Europe driving growth over the next several years, the company said in May.

In addition to new corn products, in 2014, the company is planning on introducing a second generation of transgenic-soybean seeds in Argentina despite struggling for years to collect royalties on the seeds.

The patent for those first-generation soybean seeds, which are genetically modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate, runs out in 2014. The new seeds, will add insect resistance as well.

Monsanto failed to obtain a local patent for the genetically modified soybean seeds it introduced in Argentina 15 years ago and its efforts to collect royalties have been foiled by local regulations.

However, Monsanto says it is making progress in reaching an agreement with growers to pay royalties before introducing the new, improved strain of soybean seeds.

Monsanto has a patent for the new seeds in Argentina, but under local law, farmers aren't required to pay royalties on the seeds they hold back for the next planting season.

The company doesn't face the same problem with corn seeds, however, as the pollination process dilutes the transgenic traits quickly and farmers need to buy them directly from the company each year to enjoy the yield-enhancing benefits.

Write to Shane Romig at shane.romig@dowjones.com

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