To obtain access to germplasm to ensure a vehicle for its biotechnology-derived crop traits, Monsanto Co.'s approach has been to buy, buy, buy. Thus, the company seemed out of character when it announced that it would sell its Stoneville cotton seed business to Emergent Genetics Inc.

However, the move illustrates the extent of the agbiotech giant's success at snapping up seed companies. And in fact, the action results from negotiations with the U.S. Department of Justice surrounding the company's acquisition of another cotton seed interest, Delta & Pine Land Co.