Monsanto halts work on Argentine corn processing plant

BUENOS AIRES Tue Oct 1, 2013 3:51pm EDT

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - U.S.-based seed giant Monsanto Co (MON.N) halted construction of a planned corn processing plant in Argentina after protests by environmentalists disrupted entry of work supplies, the company told Reuters on Tuesday.

Monsanto announced it was building the $150 million plant in the major agricultural province of Cordoba last year.

"The project had been scheduled for completion in the first months of next year," local Monsanto official Pablo Vaquero said. "That schedule is now in doubt."

Protesters from an environmental group called "The Argentine Malvinas Assembly" blocked access to the construction site over objections to Monsanto's work with genetically modified crops.

Argentina, the world's No. 3 corn and soybean exporter, has struggled to attract investment due to interventionist state policies, chronic labor unrest and double-digit inflation.

But with global food demand rising, capital still finds its way to the country's fertile Pampas grains belt, which boasts ample water supplies, easy access to the ports of the South Atlantic and is bigger than all of France.

(Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi, writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Nick Zieminski)