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In what could be a huge blow to Monsanto and a boon for small farms, a federal judge issued a ruling in Missouri stating that the US Fish and Wildlife shouldn't have allowed genetically modified crops on a national wildlife refuge. As a result of the ruling, 37 farming contracts—most of which were being used for GMO soybean and corn crops—have been canceled.
The language of the judge's ruling cracks the door for a larger investigation to determine the scale of environmental threats posed by GMOs—and it signals that such thorough investigations should take place before GMO crops are introduced or cultivated anywhere. And it gives opponents of genetically modified crops some much-needed ammunition.
Monsanto reported record net sales of $4 billion for the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, which were 8 percent higher than sales in the same period in fiscal year 2008. Key drivers for the quarter were increased revenues from the company's U.S. corn and soybean seeds and traits businesses. The results in the quarter were partially offset by lower volumes of Roundup agricultural herbicides. Last year Monsanto saw increased U.S. Roundup volumes in the second quarter ahead of an anticipated price increase. In 2009, sales have returned to more historical patterns, which mean the majority of U.S. branded Roundup volume will move to the third and fourth quarters. Monsanto saw record sales of $6.7 billion in the first six months of the company's fiscal year 2009. The year-to-date sales were 16 percent higher than sales in the same period in fiscal year 2008. Key contributors to the company's growth included increased revenues from the company's U.S. corn and soybean seeds and traits businesses, as well as higher Roundup sales in Brazil in the first quarter. Monsanto reported net income of $1.1 billion in the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, down 3 percent from the same period last year. For the first six months of fiscal year 2009, Monsanto reported net income of $1.6 billion, which was 19 percent higher than net income of $1.4 billion realized in the first six months of fiscal year 2008. Both periods were affected by $162 million or $0.19 per share attributable to in-process research and development (IPR&D) charges related to the company's acquisition of Aly Participacoes Ltda. (Aly), which operates the sugarcane breeding and technology companies, CanaVialis S.A. and Alellyx S.A., based in Brazil. In the second quarter and first-half of 2008, Monsanto reported a gain of $210 million pre-tax, or $0.23 per share after-tax, as part of the company's settlement of claims associated with Solutia's emergence from bankruptcy. The company's selling, general and administrative expenses (SG&A) as a percent of sales in the quarter and for the first half of fiscal year 2009 was down by 1 percentage point. Research and development (R&D) as a percent of sales was up for the quarter and the first six months because of the high level of regulatory activity from bringing multiple new products toward launch and the integration of the De Ruiter vegetable seeds business. Earnings per share (EPS) for the second quarter was $1.97 on an as-reported basis, and $2.16 on an ongoing basis. EPS for the first six months of fiscal year 2009 was $2.96 on an as-reported basis, and $3.13 on an ongoing basis. (For a reconciliation of EPS to ongoing EPS see page 1).