Monsanto: The Worst-Performing Stock of 2010?

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Some investment analysts have anointed Monsanto, the 800-pound gorilla of the food biotechnology industry, the worst stock of the year. Whether or not the company is really doing that badly, it is not having a good year.

For starters, its income fell by half since its last fiscal year.

That's bad news, but there's more. Just in the last few weeks:

    • Monsanto's SmartStax corn, which has been bioengineered to contain eight inserted genes, turns out to produce yields that are no higher than those from the less expensive genetically modified corn containing only three inserted genes.

    • Sales of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide are way down since it went off patent. Farmers prefer to buy the cheaper Chinese generics.

    • More and more weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup. To kill them, farmers have to buy other, more toxic herbicides, defeating the whole point of using this herbicide.

    • The Justice Department has Monsanto under investigation for possible antitrust violations.

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the company.

Maybe Monsanto could take the present crisis as a sign that it's time to make some real effort to elicit public support. How about petitioning the FDA to allow genetically modified foods to be labeled, for starters?

Hey, I can dream.


This post also appears on foodpolitics.com.

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Marion Nestle is a professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. She is the author of Food Politics, Safe Food, What to Eat, and Pet Food Politics. More

Nestle also holds appointments as Professor of Sociology at NYU and Visiting Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell. She is the author of three prize-winning books: Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (revised edition, 2007), Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (2003), and What to Eat (2006). Her most recent book is Feed Your Pet Right: The Authoritative Guide to Feeding Your Dog and Cat. She writes the Food Matters column for The San Francisco Chronicle and blogs almost daily at Food Politics.

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