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US Justice Dept. probing Monsanto antitrust issues

(Sunday, March 16, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Reuters: ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Monsanto Co. said on Friday that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating possible antitrust violations in the herbicide market, in which the agrochemical company is a leading player.

"The Department of Justice has initiated an inquiry about possible anti-competitive conduct in the glyphosate industry," said Monsanto spokeswoman Lori Fisher.

Fisher said the government was seeking information from a number of companies that make and distribute glyphosate, the basic ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling Roundup herbicide.

Monsanto's patent on glyphosate expired three years ago and the company's sales have been coming under increasing pressure from competitive products and pricing.

Monsanto stock was down $2.20 or 13 percent to $14.38 on the New York Stock Exchange Friday afternoon.