ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network

24 July 2002


1. Re: Monsanto Earnings Down
2. corn contamination in Oaxaca - radio programme


1. Re: Monsanto Earnings Down

from Craig Sams <>

Dear ngin

What your summary of Monsanto's quarterly results didn't mention is that Monsanto have also noted that they have to write off $2 billion of 'goodwill.'  That's the money they paid to buy up Argentine and Brazilian seed companies and it was translated into assets on their balance sheet. (They did the same thing in the US and Iowa State economist Neil Harl commented that they paid 2-3 times the normal price for seed companies and assumed it was because the foresaw a big return on investment once they had monopoly control of the seed market).  The South American companies are now pretty much worthless and have to be written down in the accounts.

Monsanto went to farmers and offered cheap GM seed on 'plant now, pay later' payment terms and now the Argentine economy has collapsed farmers can't pay. As the debt is 'collateralised' (the farmer offers his crop and/or equipment as security for the seed debt) Monsanto now have to send in the bailiffs to collect crops, tractors, anything that will help recover the debt.  But with the Argentine peso worth, at best, 25% of its former value, the very maximum they can recover is 25% of the original sale.  Hence the bad debt reserve. Of course 'cash generation is improving', Monsanto have stopped giving dosh away in the form of seed.

When we heard all those stories about the high percentages of farmers who have planted GM seed it should be remembered that they bought the seed from seed companies to which they had longstanding loyalty and which had been bought by Monsanto. Nothing hi-tech there, just human nature.

The real story is that, despite all this marketing and sales control and all the billions spent acquiring US seed companies, barely a third of US farmers have planted GM corn this year, six years after its introduction.  Put another way, 67% of US farmers, well-informed and after careful reflection, say "NO" to GM corn.  I suspect we won't be hearing much in the future about the level of GM plantings in Argentina either.

On August 13 Monsanto will no longer belong to Pharmacia, the drug company who now own them.  Pharmacia will distribute their 87% of the shares in Monsanto to their shareholders.  They have decided to do this this rather than to try to find a buyer for their Monsanto division. Many of these shareholders might not have voluntarily purchased Monsanto shares so it will be interesting to see what happens when they are distributed - could be a big selloff on Aug 13.  Could be why they had to clean up the balance sheet and clear that $1.8 billion of goodwill. After Enron, you can't be too careful.

Craig Sams


2. transgenic corn contamination

The National Radio Project in Oakland, CA, USA recently did a show on GMOs with lots of great people. Info on speakers and downloading the Real Audio file of the program is at the bottom. The file is 3.5MB.
Best Regards,
Paul Goettlich
PO Box 517
Berkeley  CA 94710

In April 2002 the prestigious journal Nature made an unprecedented reversal concerning one of its own peer-reviewed articles that had confirmed some of the deepest concerns about genetically modified crops. Researchers had apparently proven that transgenic corn contaminated other corn crops in a remote Mexican village in the center of the plant's genetic origins. Defenders of biotechnology fired back, claiming that the findings were based on shaky science, the verdict of Nature as well. Nonetheless, the researchers stood by the work.

On this edition of Making Contact, we take a look at the controversy over GMO contamination of corn crops in Mexico, a fundamental issue as the public considers the consequences of genetically engineered crops.


Michael Freeling, a professor of genetics at the University of California at Berkeley
Ignacio Chapela, researcher at U.C. Berkeley and co-author of a controversial article in the journal Nature
Claire Cummings, journalist and attorney, Food and Society Policy Fellow
Olga Maldanado and Naum Sanchez Santiago, indigenous farmers in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca
Javier Cosmes Perez, mayor of Capulalpam, Oaxaca
Roberto Gonzalez, a professor of anthropology at San Jose State University
Miguel Ramirez Dominguez, agrarian authority in Capulalpam
Raul Benet, director of Greenpeace in Mexico

For a Real Audio file of this program go to this URL:
I'm not sure just how long it will be online.
They appear to have an archive at

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