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In brief for Profit Center on March 25, 2011


Deere funds quake relief


MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- The John Deere Foundation is giving a $1 million grant to the Red Cross to support relief efforts in Japan.


Foundation officials say it will also match any contributions Deere employees make to help the earthquake and tsunami damaged nation, up to an additional $500,000.


The foundation is Deere & Co.'s main charitable organization.




Scotts cuts back on phosphorus


MARYSVILLE, Ohio (AP) -- Lawn care products maker Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. said March 22 that its lawn maintenance fertilizers used in the U.S. will be phosphorus-free by 2012's end, helping to further reduce water pollution.


Phosphorous, along with nitrogen, is a nutrient that can turn aquatic habitat into dead zones when excessive amounts are dumped through residential and farm runoff and wastewater. The nutrients can feed algae blooms that block out light needed by aquatic plants, then die off and remove oxygen from the water as the organisms decompose.


Scotts began lowering phosphorus levels in its lawn fertilizer products in 2006.


"We still felt there was room for us to do things with our products that were better for the environment," Scotts Chief Environmental Officer Richard Shank said in an interview.


Phosphorus, which Scotts says is important for the initial root development of grass, will remain in the company's starter fertilizers and its organic lawn food lines. Phosphorus naturally occurs in the organic materials in the product line.


Shank said pricing for the Scotts products will stay relatively the same once the phosphorus is removed, and that customers should not notice any difference in their effectiveness.


Scotts said it will also concentrate more on finding better ways to use nitrogen -- a key nutrient for healthy grass maintenance -- in its lawn fertilizer products.


Scotts, based in Marysville, Ohio, sells lawn care products to North American and European consumers. In the U.S., it runs Scotts LawnService, a residential lawn care business.




Miller wins suit over biotech rice


STUTTGART, Ark. (AP) -- An Arkansas County Circuit Court jury has awarded $142 million to a rice miller that sued a German conglomerate over genetically modified rice.


Arkansas Business reported that the panel decided March 18 that Bayer CropScience owed Riceland Foods Inc. $17 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages.


Riceland alleged that Bayer CropScience's negligence had cost the Arkansas-based company $380 million in projected and future losses since August 2006, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Bayer's experimental Liberty Link rice had been found in the U.S. supply of long-grain rice.


The European Union, a major customer for Arkansas rice, refused to import any rice showing traces of genetically modified organisms.


Officials with Bayer didn't immediately return a message left seeking comment on the verdict.



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