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Monsanto announces plans to develop drought tolerant wheat seeds

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

St. Louis-based Monsanto announced plans Tuesday to genetically engineer wheat seeds that will tolerate drought and provide a higher yield.

The agribusiness giant is paying $45 million for the assets of WestBred, a Montana company that specializes in wheat germplasm, as part of its plan. Wheat germplasm is the crop seed's genetic material.

Officials say the drought-resistant seeds could take eight to 10 years to develop.

Monsanto stopped plans for engineering RoundUp Ready wheat seeds five years ago, citing an overall decline in wheat production.

In June, the company announced plans to increase its focus on seed traits after a nearly 50% decline in sales of its RoundUp and other herbicides.