Christine Anyeko, a laborer in Uganda's northern Amuru district, weeds a field of cassava, banana and beans by hand.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

NAMULONGE, Uganda — Before rows of tall, green bushes, Jude Aleu picks a cassava tuber off the ground and cracks it in half.

That shouldn’t be so easy. Healthy cassava tubers — a staple food crop in the region — can grow as thick as your upper arm. But the root in Aleu’s hands is stunted and gnarled because of a plant virus called brown streak disease. When he breaks it open, the flesh is streaked with brown and yellow, a necrosis that will render the harvest inedible.

“It’s corky,” said Aleu, a cassava safety manager for Uganda’s National Crops Resources Research Institute. “This root you cannot eat. Even animals cannot eat it.” 

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Losing a corporate headquarters is generally not considered good news.

Yet the announcement that Creve Coeur-based Monsanto is likely to be acquired by Bayer is being viewed by many in the startup community as a positive.

Monsanto says it will not comment further on Bayer's bid, which is being reviewed by the board of directors.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The head of St. Louis-based Monsanto says completing the $66 billion deal with Bayer is one of his company's main goals for 2017. Hugh Grant has also given analysts reasons why he thinks the takeover by the German company will be cleared by regulators. He spoke Wednesday during Monsanto's quarterly earnings call.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto has acquired a license to engineer crops using the revolutionary gene editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9. 

The tool is considered more effective and simpler to use than the transgenesis method of developing genetically modified organisms. Developing a GMO involves introducing a foreign gene that carries a trait, such as resistance to drought or a particular pest. Testing a GMO seed can take years and complying with regulations that control such products can raise costs of development. 

Nigel Taylor, the principal investigator for the VIRCA project, checks the stems of cassava plants at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As botanist Nigel Taylor moves through a greenhouse kept to 90 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 percent humidity, he checks the stems of young, potted cassava plants.

“You can see it there, OK?” Taylor said, pulling one forward. “We’re getting lesions on the stem, this plant’s quite badly infected.”

Call it manioc, tapioca or cassava — this starchy, tropical tuber feeds millions of people around the world. In many parts of East and Central Africa, farmers are experiencing declining yields of cassava due to brown streak virus, a plant disease that can render a crop inedible.

For the past decade, scientists at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur have led a project that tries another tack: genetically modifying cassava plants for disease resistance.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Senior executives with Bayer and Monsanto are defending the German company’s proposed $66 billion acquisition of the St. Louis agricultural giant. They were among the industry leaders who testified Tuesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on agricultural consolidation.

The Bayer-Monsanto deal comes as other acquisitions in the agricultural sector are pending. Dow Chemical and DuPont are midway through the regulatory process, while ChemChina and Switzerland-based Syngenta also have a proposed deal.

(courtesy Monsanto and Bayer)

Bayer and Monsanto executives are working to calm nerves in St. Louis regarding the planned $66 billion acquisition.

In Wednesday's announcement, Bayer said it will keep the combined company’s seeds and traits business in St. Louis, as well as its North American headquarters.

Monsanto says it will not comment further on Bayer's bid, which is being reviewed by the board of directors.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:25 a.m., Sept. 14 with CEO comments -  The head of Monsanto is assuring St. Louis residents about the company's commitment to the region, following the announcement that the agribusiness giant is being acquired by Germany-based Bayer. Hugh Grant told reporters the combination is good news for the region and points to the fact that it will be the global center for the combined company's seeds and traits operations.

Monsanto says it will not comment further on Bayer's bid, which is being reviewed by the board of directors.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:18 a.m., Sept. 6 with revised Bayer offer - St. Louis-based Monsanto is evaluating another takeover proposal from a German company. Bayer announced early Tuesday morning that is has increased its offer by roughly 2 percent. It’s a more than $65 billion proposal.

The Climate Corporation Logo
Provided by The Climate Corporation

The sale of a Monsanto unit's high-speed planting technology subsidiary is in jeopardy. The federal government has gone to court to block the deal. It contends the multi-million dollar sale would hinder competition and raise costs for farmers. The companies involved in the potential transaction are vowing to fight the claims.

Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Updated Wednesday, June 29 with statement from Monsanto — Farmers throughout the European Union will continue to use Monsanto's weed killer Roundup, at least for a while.

The European Commission has decided to extend a license that allows glyphosate, a key ingredient in Roundup, to be sold in the European Union for 18 months.

(Courtesy Ayers Saint Gross)

St. Louis has the highest concentration of plant scientists in the world. But the places where they conduct their experiments aren't necessarily the most inviting.

To attract more biotech industries and talent to the area, St. Louis County officials want to remake the areas where researchers work, especially in Creve Coeur, home to Monsanto and many promising startup companies.

That's the idea behind a proposed plant science innovation district that would connect the Danforth Science Center, BRDG Park, the Helix Center Biotech Incubator and Monsanto. The effort also aims to solidify St. Louis' reputation as a plant-science hub. But detailed plans for the area likely won't come until the end of the year.

Monsanto says it will not comment further on Bayer's bid, which is being reviewed by the board of directors.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Tuesday, May 24, 3 p.m., to include Monsanto's rejection of Bayer offer - St. Louis-based crops and seeds specialist Monsanto has rejected a $62 billion offer from German drugs and chemicals company Bayer AG.

In a statement Tuesday, Monsanto called the takeover bid "incomplete and financially inadequate." However, the seed company is suggesting that a higher bid might be accepted, saying that it remains open to talks.

Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant also said that the initial offer failed to address potential financing and regulatory risks. Bayer made an all-cash bid that valued Monsanto's stock at $122 each.

Our original story:

Bayer is making its case for buying St. Louis-based Monsanto. The German company is offering to acquire the seeds and agricultural chemical business for $62 billion. The deal could create the world’s leading company for crop protection and seeds and traits.

Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has launched a $62 billion bid for seed seller Monsanto in what some news reports say would be the largest-ever German takeover of a foreign company.

Bayer's all-cash offer is 37 percent higher than Monsanto's stock price before news broke about the possible deal.

"This transaction represents a compelling opportunity for Monsanto's shareholders," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told reporters on a conference call Monday.

Later this week, in hundreds of cities around the globe, from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, to Lancaster, Pa., protesters will "March Against Monsanto." Will they still march if there's no Monsanto?

A German company is making a play for St. Louis-based Monsanto. Bayer has made an unsolicited, non-binding offer for the global agricultural company.

An international panel of scientists reported this week that glyphosate, the main ingredient used in Monsanto's weed killer Roundup is unlikely to cause cancer in humans.

On the same day the company paid out dividends to shareholders of 54 cents, Monsanto held its annual meeting.

Shareholders elected 13 members of the board of directors to one-year terms. They also approved the company’s executive compensation plan, ratified the hiring of accounting firm Deloitte and Touche, and approved the company’s performance goals.

Three shareowner proposals failed.

Monsanto Co. filed suit against a California state agency Thursday to keep it from including glyphosate on a list of cancer-causing chemicals.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said in September it planned to put the herbicide on its Proposition 65 list. That list, created in 1986, includes chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that St. Louis-based Monsanto patented in the 1970s under the RoundUp label.

Facing increasing pressure from declining seed sales, St. Louis-based Monsanto has announced plans to cut more jobs from its global work force.

Under what the company describes as a Revised Restructuring Plan, it will eliminate 3,600 positions through the end of fiscal year 2018. Monsanto's original initiative, announced last October, called for 2,600 job cuts.

Katelyn Petrin | St. Louis Public Radio

On Tuesday’s “St. Louis on the Air,” host Don Marsh discussed the year in business happenings in the area — from Cortex to coal to NGA — with the reporters who know the subject best.

Monsanto, a global agricultural company headquartered in St. Louis, says it is taking a leadership role as the sector deals with climate change.

Monsanto plans to make all operations carbon neutral by 2021.

Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant says essentially the company wants all of its systems to store, offset or sequester as much carbon as they release.

“When the beginning and the end match up and you are at net-neutrality, that’s the definition of a good day, I think.”

The United Soybean Board | Flickr

St. Louis-based Monsanto is joining 80 other U.S. companies in pledging to back a White House campaign to build support for climate talks this December in Paris, France, where the Obama administration says it hopes to see a global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Monsanto announced Wednesday it would shed 2,600 employees in the next 18 to 24 months as the company deals with declining seed sales.

The seed giant reported a $495 million loss, or about $1.06 per share, for its fiscal fourth quarter.

It’s not clear how many jobs will be affected at its Creve Coeur-based headquarters. The cuts represent about 12 percent of Monsanto’s workforce, and spokeswoman Sara Miller said they will take place globally across all functions.

(courtesy Donald Danforth Plant Science Center)

GMOs -- genetically modified organisms -- are not exactly a controversial subject at the Ag Innovation Showcase.

The three-day annual event is the place where the agriculture industry comes together to talk about new trends and startups to present to potential investors.

Yet this week at the seventh annual showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, there was also discussion around how people outside of agriculture view the technology. The auditorium was packed for a panel discussion called "Transparency Without Prejudice--Bridging the GMO Divide."

Monsanto pulls bid for Syngenta

Aug 26, 2015

The St. Louis-based seed giant announced Wednesday its offer to buy Swiss pesticide producer Syngenta is off the table.

While Monsanto continued to argue the merger would have "created value" for shareholders of both companies, it said in a statement the most recent offer did not meet Syngenta’s financial expectations.

Chess programs are offered in many area schools.
Ryan Chester | Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis

The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis has built a solid foundation of creating awareness and educating the urban area youth about chess. The challenge has been reaching similar audiences in rural communities ... until now.

By partnering with Monsanto Fund, the Chess Club is able to embark upon a new partnership featuring rural areas around St. Louis. Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of the St. Louis-based company, recently announced a $20,580 grant to launch the program this summer.

GMOs, Monsanto and the fight against climate change

Jul 12, 2015
A storm hovers over an Illinois rural landscape on May 29, 2015. Extreme weather is likely to become more common in the Midwest under climate change conditions, according to researchers and federal reports.
Darrell Hoemann | Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

Twenty years ago, less than 10 percent of corn and soybean acres in the United States were planted with genetically engineered seeds, the type of biotechnology now commonly known as GMOs.

Farmers have rushed to adopt the engineered seeds since then, in part because of climate change concerns.

Updated at 12:30 pm June 24, 2015 with comments from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant

The chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Monsanto says the company is still committed to putting together a deal to acquire a European agricultural chemical manufacturer.

Interest in Syngenta remains high, but Hugh Grant has told analysts on Wednesday that Monsanto is keeping options option in case a deal is not reached.

"This isn’t something we’re gonna turn into an epic struggle," he stated during the company's quarterly earnings conference call.

Our previous story from June 23, 2015:

The chairman of Syngenta is laying out the general terms for any possible acquisition by St. Louis-based Monsanto.

Sen. Dick Durbin
Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is pointing to recently released filings from Swiss agricultural giant Syngenta as proof that Monsanto is looking to move its “tax address” out of the United States in a move known as a “corporate inversion” in which U.S. companies move their headquarters out of the U.S. — on paper at least — to avoid paying U.S. taxes.