Monsanto | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto

provided | Danforth Plant Science Center

After two decades of building, the region’s agricultural technology cluster is poised to take off. A Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit suggests it already is a global leader and a national example for other metro areas trying to establish economic growth strategies.

Missouri Bontanical Garden

Bayer’s $60 billion-plus acquisition of Monsanto has many non-profit organizations in St. Louis wondering what the future holds in terms of funding from one of the city’s oldest and most generous benefactors.

Monsanto has donated nearly $10 million each year since 2000 to a wide variety of organizations in the region. The company estimates it has invested at least half a billion dollars in the St. Louis community since it was founded in 1901.

David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto, a company based in St. Louis for more than 100 years, is now part of Bayer.

The roughly $63-billion acquisition closed Thursday, nearly two years after the companies first announced the deal. Regulators in Canada and Mexico were among the last international watchdogs to approve the combination.

The U.S. Department of Justice signed off on it late last month after Bayer committed to shedding about $9 billion in several areas to chemical giant BASF.

That includes Bayer's Liberty-brand herbicides, which compete with Monsanto's Roundup.

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Original story from 06/04/18; updated with audio from St. Louis on the Air segment on 06/06/18.

Monsanto will be under new ownership by the end of the week and have a new name likely by the end of the summer. Bayer plans to finalize its roughly $63-billion acquisition of the St. Louis agricultural seeds and chemical company on Thursday. 

Merav Gleit, Monsanto's bee health platform lead, with the company's backyard bee hives in summer 2016.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto and St. Louis-based biotech company RNAgri are collaborating to develop a technology that will help farmers and beekeepers ward off pests. 

The technology uses a naturally occurring process called RNA interference. DNA contains genetic information that RNA transports throughout a cell to allow the cell to produce proteins. The honeybee, for example, produces some types of proteins that attract varroa mites, a parasite that scientists believe to be a cause of colony collapse disorder. RNA interference could stop those proteins from being produced and prevent varroa mites from harming bees. 

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A critical part of Bayer's multi-billion dollar buyout of Creve Coeur-based Monsanto has been approved. The European Union has signed off on the deal, but with conditions. 

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto and several growers associations filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the state of California for adding the herbicide ingredient glyphosate to a list of cancer-causing substances. 

California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment announced in July it would add glyphosate to Proposition 65. Known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, the California law requires the state to publish a list of substances known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Sikeston farmer Trey Wilson said he saw substantial damage to his soybean crops this year. On the left is what a healthy soybean plant looks like; on the right is a soybean plant showing signs of dicamba damage.
Trey Wilson

Sikeston, Missouri — In front of several greenhouse scaffolds, Steve Hamra gestured to a metal cart containing trays of seedlings for bell peppers, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. About 150 miles south of St. Louis on a 10-acre site, Hamra is growing produce hydroponically, or in water instead of soil, for about 400 schools, in Missouri and other states.

Adrian Percy, head of research and development at Bayer CropScience, delivers the keynote speech  at the 2017 Ag Innovation Showcase at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

As European regulators investigate the potential $66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger, Bayer's CropScience division is preparing to address challenges in crop technology, especially those tied to Monsanto's products. 

At the annual Ag Innovation Showcase in St. Louis hosted by the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, Adrian Percy, Bayer CropScience's head of research and development, said a priority for the merged companies would be addressing a decline in pollinators and meeting the high demand for herbicides to combat resistant weeds.

Logan Jackson | Curators of the University of Missouri

Large agricultural corporations influence all stripes of Missouri politicians, including the Republicans who control the Missouri General Assembly.

A new nonprofit organization is seeking to change that, pushing back against Big Ag’s money and lobbyists. But it’s a tall order, especially when multibillion-dollar companies like Monsanto and Smithfield donate hefty sums to rural Democrats’ and Republicans’ campaigns.

Carol Van Strum has been in legal battles with the federal government and chemical industries since the 1970s. She amassed a trove of government documents, which are now being published for the first time.
Risa Scott | RF Scott Imagery

Bending a rusted, gnarled piece of wire gate just above her head, Carol Van Strum ducked into the old, dark shed where she kept some old, dark secrets.

“This was my bear deterrent,” she said of the makeshift gate.

She shined a lantern past a stack of hay bales, lighting up a row of decaying cardboard boxes that housed what’s left of her document trove.

“This is where the worst of them were,” she said. “This whole, it was just filled. And you can see the state of them. This is what they all looked like.”

After gathering dust, rust and rat poop for decades in the Siuslaw National Forest, Van Strum’s piles of documents about the chemical industry are poised to become evidence in lawsuits with billions of dollars at stake.  

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A California law firm has released several dozen internal documents that show that Monsanto influenced research on glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient.

The lawyers represent farmers who claimed in a lawsuit that exposure to Roundup caused them non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The documents posted Tuesday on the law firm's website include email and memos that contain more evidence that the company had ghostwritten research on the health effects of glyphosate. They build on other evidence a federal judge unsealed in March

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 2:30 p.m. July 13 with comment from Monsanto — Farmers can resume using the herbicide dicamba, the Missouri Department of Agriculture announced Thursday.

The new restrictions come less than a week after the department issued a temporary ban on the sale and use of the controversial herbicide. Missouri has received more than 100 complaints this year of drifting herbicide, which had damaged crops.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, will be added to the list of chemicals California warns are known to cause cancer.

The state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has posted a notice on its website that glyphosate will be added to the list on July 7. A California judge denied Monsanto's request to block the state from doing so, but the company has filed an appeal.

Flickr | TerryJohnston

Updated July 18 with deal closing - Panera Bread is no longer a locally-owned company. The $7.5 billion acquisition by European business group J-A-B Holding Company was completed Tuesday morning. The deal takes Panera private and its shares are no longer trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

Monsanto's widely-used weed killer Roundup on a shelf in Home Depot.
File photo | Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto is facing more pressure to compensate farmers and farm workers who allege that its leading pesticide product caused them to develop cancer. 

A Los Angeles-based law firm on Friday filed 136 new cases against the company in St. Louis County Circuit Court. The lawsuits allege that exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, caused the plaintiffs to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The debate over the safety of Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup has become more complicated, as newly released emails suggest the company had ghostwritten scientific research on glyphosate, the pesticide’s key ingredient.

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On behalf of several farmers in 10 states, including Missouri and Illinois, a law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Monsanto.

The main allegation is that the agriculture company knowingly sold a crop that did not have any approved herbicide to go along with it in 2015 and 2016. As a result, farmers who planted Monsanto’s Xtend cotton and soybean seed used dicamba, an illegal herbicide, to avoid damage to the crops.

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Jan. 17 with comments from Bayer, Monsanto and Trump administration - More details are emerging about Bayer's possible acquisition of St. Louis-based Monsanto. The companies and the incoming Trump administration on Tuesday provided some specifics about job numbers and investment levels.

In a joint statement, Bayer and Monsanto said there are plans to invest $16 billion in agricultural research and development over six years, with at least $8 billion of that in the United States.

Corn stalks sit in a new greenhouse structure, which features 160,000 feet of glass at Monsanto on Oct. 28, 2016.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Monsanto has reached a non-exclusive licensing deal with a local company to use a tool that could help engineer new, high-yielding seeds. 

The GenoMAGIC technology was developed by NRGene, an Israeli startup that opened its U.S. headquarters in St. Louis last spring. Scientists use the tool to analyze genes in plants. Monsanto wants to use it to find new combinations of genes that could produce bigger harvests for farmers.

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