St. Louis – St. Louis-based agribusiness giant Monsanto announced plans Wednesday to cut 900 jobs, or about 4 percent of its work force.
Monsanto is known for its genetically-engineered corn and soybean seeds that are resistant to the herbicide Roundup, which it also makes.
The company says cooler and wetter weather and increased competition resulted in a 47 percent quarterly sales drop for Roundup and other herbicides.
Spokesman Lee Quarles said as a result the company will begin laying off workers in the next few months.
"Obviously this is a difficult decision to make and we believe it's the right one for our business and we remain committed to our employees and working with them to help ease the transition."
Monsanto employs about 23,000 people worldwide and more than 4,000 in St. Louis. Quarles said he doesn't know how many local workers will lose jobs.
"We're going to basically evaluate our staffing needs as we move forward and we would anticipate the layoffs associated with this restructuring are going to continue into our 2010 fiscal year."
Officials also said they'll make the herbicides division a standalone unit within the company.
CEO Hugh Grant said the move is part of Monsanto's shift in focus to high-tech seeds, and away from chemicals.
Profits companywide dropped 14 percent for the third quarter. That figure beat Wall Street expectations, but officials are predicting poor fourth quarter profits as well.
On a positive note, Monsanto said revenue for its corn and soybeans is up.