Monsanto intends for the controversial weedkiller dicamba to continue — if not accelerate — its rise as a centerpiece of genetically modified cropping systems.
Despite last year’s widespread reports of dicamba-related crop damage across millions of acres and skepticism from independent weed scientists about the chemical’s compatibility with nontolerant crops, Monsanto sees the herbicide as a prized asset now and in the foreseeable future, as it develops new crop varieties engineered to tolerate the chemical.
The Creve Coeur-based seed company touted more than 20 total advancements in its pipeline over the last year, spread across multiple fields of research, in a conference call with reporters Thursday.
The pipeline update followed a release of quarterly earnings earlier Thursday morning. For the fiscal year’s first quarter ending Nov. 30, the company reported increased net profits of $169 million, or 38 cents per share, from $29 million, or 7 cents per share, a year before.
The rousing financial success of dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybeans — which some farmers say they feel pressured to adopt for self-protection — was identified as one notable engine for revenue.
Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s chief technology officer, said 20 million acres of dicamba-tolerant Xtend soybeans were planted in the U.S. last year — a number projected to double for the upcoming growing season.
Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch