April 2, 2009 / 4:11 PM / 10 years ago

Monsanto pays S. Africa farmers over corn concerns

KANSAS CITY, Mo., April 2 (Reuters) - Monsanto Co MON.N, the world’s largest seed company and a purveyor of genetically altered crops, said on Thursday it recorded a $42 million pre-tax charge because of problems with corn grown in South Africa.

Monsanto made payments to South Afrucab growers after “pollination and yield concerns” arose with three white corn hybrids grown solely in that country, said Monsanto vice president for investor relations Scarlett Foster.

“These three hybrids appeared to produce less than optimal amounts of pollen,” she said.

The hybrid issue was isolated on less than 4 percent of the roughly 6 million acres of corn planted there, Foster said.

The compensation to farmers amounted to about 5 cents a share after tax.

“Working with growers on production challenges is part and parcel of doing business,” Foster said.

Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles said the problem arose during the 2007 seed production season when a breeding technique went awry.

“We reviewed the method and are making the necessary changes,” he said.

Monsanto said Thursday its net income fell to $1.09 billion, or $1.97 a share, in the second quarter ended on Feb. 28 from $1.13 billion, or $2.02 a share, a year earlier. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by David Gregorio)

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