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Monsanto Under Investigation by SEC

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The world's largest seed company, Monsanto, announced Wednesday that its quarterly profits surged nearly 80 percent.

But the news was clouded somewhat by another announcement that the biotechnology giant was under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for offering incentives to distributors who sell its herbicides.

The company's herbicide division, which includes the flagship product, Roundup, has struggled in recent years, losing ground to cheaper, generic alternatives from China.  In 2009 and 2010, Monsanto began offering incentives to customers to use Roundup in an attempt to shore up the brand.

On Wednesday, Monsanto executives said the SEC had launched a probe into the incentive programs and that the agency has subpoenaed documents.