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Agribusiness: Monsanto offers Flex formulations to competitors

To make sure growers have the “best experience possible” with its new Roundup Ready Flex cotton, Monsanto says it is making information about a new formulation of its glyphosate herbicide available to other manufacturers.

Speaking at a media event at its Leland, Miss., research facility, Monsanto representatives said they will be selling new versions of Roundup WeatherMax and Roundup Original Max that have been specially tested and formulated to provide optimum crop safety and weed control for use on Roundup Ready Flex varieties.

But the company will also make information about the new formulations available to producers of competing glyphosate herbicides, said Jeff Wheeler, Roundup marketing manager for Monsanto.

“We’ve been telling growers that injury may occur when they use glyphosate not specifically formulated for Roundup Ready Flex cotton,” said Wheeler. “We’re encouraging growers to ask their retailer if their glyphosate products contain the new formulation.

“We want to make sure growers have the best possible experience with Roundup Ready Flex cotton, and we’re trying to offer the best products we can provide.”

The new Roundup agricultural herbicide formulations, which were scheduled to begin arriving at farm supply wholesale and retail outlets in mid-September, will feature a product starburst on the label that reads: “Herbicide for use with Roundup Ready crops and now specially formulated for expanded Roundup Ready Flex cotton uses.”

Wheeler said the new formulations of Roundup WeatherMax and Roundup Original Max will be the only Roundup agricultural herbicides that can be applied over Roundup Ready Flex cotton beginning in 2006. (Monsanto expects to introduce the technology next year if foreign regulatory approvals are received.)

“Pricing will be competitive with Roundup Original Max being offered at the same price point as in 2005,” Wheeler says. “Growers can expect Roundup WeatherMax to be offered at a similar or lower price compared to its 2005 list price.”

Monsanto tested a number of herbicide formulations on Roundup Ready Flex cotton last summer after studies confirmed that a combination of components in existing glyphosate formulations, including all previous Roundup agricultural brands, has the potential to cause leaf injury when applied past the four-leaf stage in cotton.

“These new Roundup brand formulations address this potential leaf-injury problem and underscore Monsanto’s commitment that cotton growers have the best possible experience with Roundup Ready Flex cotton, both in terms of weed control and crop safety,” Wheeler said.

He said Monsanto is making the improved formulation technology broadly available to support grower choice and a competitive marketplace, although it is not yet known which manufacturers will have new formulations available.

Before the recent Monsanto studies, leaf injury from over-the-top glyphosate applications had not been an issue because those applications were not allowed in Roundup Ready cotton past the four-leaf stage. Roundup Ready Flex cotton gives growers more flexibility by allowing applications past the four-leaf stage. To date, only leaf injury has been documented. No bollshed, pollination problems or yield reduction have been observed as a result of this crop injury.

“We know that environmental issues can play a role in the occurrence of this injury,” Wheeler said. “This leaf injury has only been documented in cotton — not in any other Roundup Ready crops.”

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