Commentary: Monsanto May Be Counting Its Chickens

In his optimistic moments, Robert B. Shapiro likes to compare his agriculture and pharmaceutical company to Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. Monsanto Co. is providing the chemical equivalent of chips and operating systems in genetically engineered seeds licensed to farmers. But perhaps Shapiro should compare Monsanto to medical biotech--an industry that for two decades has shown huge promise, soaked up billions in investment, and produced only a handful of winning products.

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