(Dow Jones) — The U.S. Justice Department has closed a formal antitrust investigation into the US seed industry, which is led by St. Louis crop biotechnology company Monsanto Co., without pursuing charges, the government said Friday.
The Department of Justice had first demanded information from Monsanto in January 2010, according to the company. The department had refused to identify the target of its investigation, but made economic concentration in agriculture a focus during the first half of President Barack Obama’s first term.
The Justice Department had demanded information about Monsanto’s business practices surrounding its Roundup Ready soybean, a ubiquitous product genetically modified to withstand application of the herbicide glyphosate.
With Monsanto losing patent protection on its blockbuster Roundup Ready soybean in 2014, rival DuPont Co. had complained Monsanto was trying to force seed companies to prematurely switch to the second-generation technology.
DuPont also received a demand for information from the Justice Department, but said it believed the investigation wasn’t aimed at its behavior.
A Monsanto spokeswoman earlier this month said that the company had cooperated fully with the Justice Department and that it had “meritorious legal positions.”
The Justice Department, along with the Department of Agriculture, conducted a series of workshops around the country in 2010 examining concentration in the seed, livestock, poultry and dairy markets. The highly publicized workshops didn’t result in any major regulatory changes, and Christine Varney, who was the head of the Justice Department’s antitrust enforcement at the time, has since left for the private sector.