LINCOLN, Nebraska, 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
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."