March 25, 2005, Knight-Ridder Tribune, Bill Hord via
CropChoice.com: A University of Nebraska-Lincoln
genetic breakthrough has, according to this story, led
to a $2.5 million partnership with Monsanto Co. and
to criticism from one university regent.
The story notes that UNL researchers will receive up
to $2.5 million from Monsanto over the next five years
to develop soybean seeds that can withstand sprayings
of a weed-killer known as dicamba.
The agreement, which also calls for royalty payments
to the university after the seed goes to market, stems
from genetic discoveries by UNL biochemist Don Weeks
and other plant scientists.
University of Nebraska Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons,
executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs,
a nonprofit organization that advocates for small family
farms, was cited as criticizing the agreement Thursday,
saying the university's research is helping Monsanto
line its pockets, adding, "What we're doing is
going to suck money out of rural Nebraska and put it
into the corporate coffers in St. Louis. … Monsanto
makes more money, and farmers make less."
Lisa Lunz, who farms with her husband, Jim, near Wakefield,
and is chairwoman of the research committee of the Nebraska
Soybean Association, was quoted as saying, "With
the weeds getting a higher tolerance to Roundup, we
will need other tools to help us control those weeds.
This will be one of them. … I'm thinking this
product will be good for us. Will the technology fees
be good for us? No."
Hassebrook was further cited as saying the university
should focus on research that helps farmers manage their
crops without the need for expensive technology fees,
adding, "I think we should do work that would contribute
to the common good of Nebraskans without enriching Monsanto
at the expense of Nebraskans."
Prem Paul, vice chancellor for research at UNL, was
cited as saying the university first sought funding
from commodity groups for the research, and then sought
proposals from several industry corporations before
selecting Monsanto, adding, "What this is about
is having a collaboration with a reputable corporate
partner that has expertise and resources to bring this
to the marketplace in a way that will benefit farmers
and the general public."