Monsanto sees higher seed sales outside US

Sep 27 | Updated: Sep 28 2007, 05:49am hrs
Monsanto Co, the worlds largest seed producer, said that its corn seeds may gain as much as two percentage points of marketshare a year outside the US because of demand for higher-yielding crops.

Gains in corn-seed share will continue through the end of the decade in Europe, South Africa, Argentina and India, St. Louis-based Monsanto said on Thursday in a presentation. Monsanto plans to stabilise corn-seed share in Brazil after dropping to 30% from 35%. This month's purchase of Agroeste Sementes boosts Monsanto's Brazil share to 40%.

Farmers outside the US planted 95 million acres with Monsanto seeds modified to resist bugs and tolerate weed killer. The market for biotech seeds outside the US could reach 270 million acres on sales of corn in Brazil, Argentina and Europe, insect-resistant cotton in India and weed killer- tolerant soybeans in Brazil, Monsanto said.

I really see the opportunity here to accelerate the earnings, Brett Begemann, a Monsanto executive vice president, said at a Credit Suisse chemicals conference in New York. We will see continued share growth around the world in our corn- seed business.''

Indian farmers this year increased purchases of Monsanto's insect-protected cotton to 13 million acres from 8.3 million, making India the biggest user of the product, Begemann said. Sales of insect-resistant cotton seed may reach 20 million acres in the nation by 2010, about the time when the technology may be combined with weed-killer resistance, he said.

Farmers in Brazil planted half their soybean fields with seeds resistant to Monsanto's Roundup weed killer, more than the company's previous estimate of 45%, Begemann said. So- called Roundup Ready seeds may account for 95% of Brazil's soybean market by 2010, he said.

Monsanto has about 13% of corn seed sales in the European Union, adding about 1 percentage point a year, on demand for conventional seeds, Begemann said. Gains of as much as 2 percentage points will continue, he said. Europe has been slow to embrace gene-modified seeds amid concerns about possible effects on human health and the environment.