Monsanto unveils EU conventional breeding plans

Monsanto has unveiled a €500m (£428m) investment in Europe to expand its conventional seed business during the next decade.

Earlier this year, Monsanto, the world’s biggest biotech crop company, said it was pulling its GM crop business out of Europe after opposition to the technology from consumers and policymakers.

The company announced it was withdrawing its pending applications for the commercial cultivation of GM crops in Europe to concentrate instead on expanding its conventional seed business .

In response to “strong demand” for agricultural seeds globally, Monsanto said it was adding to its hybrid maize and rapeseed production plants at several sites across Europe.

Under the plans, Monsanto will “more than double” its seed production in Europe by increasing its seed processing capabilities in Romania, Hungary, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and France.

The plant being further developed in Peyrehorade, south-west France (pictured), will supply hybrid oilseed rape seed for UK Dekalb growers.

Anne Williams, Monsanto’s oilseed rape product manager for western Europe, said: “The investments we are making in the Peyrehorade plant will allow us to double throughput and reduce processing time, using industry-leading seed cleaning and drying systems to achieve the best-quality hybrid oilseed rape seeds for UK farmers.”

The investments will help Monsanto to deliver reliable supplies of the newest hybrids to UK growers sooner, she added. “It allows us to achieve excellent isolation for pure seed production and a very early harvest, allowing us to process and certify fresh seed in good time for early planting in the UK.”

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