Monsanto OKs $975M Louisiana Plant For 2-Product Herbicide

LULING, LA (AP) — Gov. John Bel Edwards and company officials said Tuesday that Monsanto Co. has approved a $975 million expansion.

         Monsanto President and Chief Operating Officer Brett Begemann, in a news release, said the project will add 95 jobs averaging $76,500 a year.

         The expansion price tag is slightly less than the June announcement's prediction of more than $1 billion. Monsanto says construction is expected to be complete in mid-2019.

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         Officials said the expansion will keep 645 jobs in St. Charles Parish and let the agribusiness giant launch what it calls its Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System.

         The expansion will make an herbicide called dicamba.

         Roundup Ready seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, which is widely used to kill weeds in corn and soybean fields. Many weeds have developed a resistance to glyphosate, however.

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         The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved cotton and soybean seeds resistant to both herbicides, and Monsanto plans to make a combination product.

         The company has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to allow use of dicamba on genetically engineered crops.

         EPA is taking public comments on the proposal through April 30. The agency's website says it is concerned that weeds could become resistant to dicamba, and would require steps including "robust monitoring and reporting to EPA."

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