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Monsanto plans to cut 700 jobs, 150 in St. Louis

By Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio

(2010-08-31) – Biotech giant Monsanto has plans to trim an additional 650 to 700 jobs from its global work force in addition to 900 jobs eliminated last summer.

The company says the downsizing is targeted in its Roundup herbicide business.

Roughly 150 of the job cuts will come at Monsanto's St. Louis headquarters.

Monsanto's patent on Roundup expired in 2000. Since then demand for the company's signature herbicide has dropped off considerably.

Peter Goldsmith teaches agribusiness management at the University of Illinois. He said Roundup was such big business that when Monsanto's patent expired, layoffs were nearly unavoidable.

"Like other industries that maintain patents, whether it's a drug industry, when the generics come out, the business is over." Goldsmith said. "This is the gear grinding that is going on as you phase out one very large business and move into the next generation."

Roughly 85 percent of the company's business is now focused on its bioengineered seeds and specialty traits, along with developing new generations of "Roundup Ready" seed products.

Monsanto also announced year-end earnings on the low-end of its previously expected range.

The job cuts will cost the company $60 million in facility closure expenses, and $90 million in severance and benefit costs.