We were pleased to participate in the March 12th workshop and provide more information about our business. It was a unique opportunity to highlight the investment that Monsanto and hundreds of other seed companies are making on behalf of U.S. farmers. With dozens of trait technologies available to farmers today and fifty new traits currently under development, it’s clear that competition within the U.S. seeds industry is growing. The fight to win the farmer’s business is intense. We remain committed to investing in new products for farmers, products that present another option on farm and offer them more value for their farm.

Cotton farmers in Africa inspect their crop. In Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa, biotech cotton increased from 8,500 hectares to 115,000 hectares.

This week’s ISAAA report is at first glance, not surprising: yes, the “how much?” question is always the lead, and as in other years, the report says more and more farmers around the world are planting biotech crops.*
But more interesting to me, are the answers to the “where?” and “what?” questions. As in, where are farmers planting biotech crops and what are they planting? Reviewing the list, I see countries that I haven’t seen before as well as new products that I haven’t heard of (blue roses anyone?). Here’s some tidbits that caught my eye. Also, I should note that Monsanto is a sponsor of ISAAA. Read the rest of this entry »

Chan Mazour (right, light blue shirt) talks to a group at the Gothenburg Learning Center in the summer of 2009.

For a site that was constructed to study water utilization in crops in a semi-arid environment, Monsanto’s Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center had a bit of a small problem during its inaugural year: too much rain.

In an area that typically receives 23 inches of rain per year, the site received approximately 30 inches between April 15 and September 30, said Gothenburg Site Lead Chan Mazour.  Then 30 inches of snow came in October that delayed corn drydown and ultimately harvest.

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Monsanto News Lowdown

January 20, 2010

There is a lot of news at Monsanto this week. Here is a quick read of everything that is going on.

  • Corn Farmers Saved $50M in Insurance Premiums by Planting Biotech
  • And on it goes…Monsanto vs. DuPont
  • Roundup Ready® Alfalfa Goes to the Supreme Court
  • Calling All Rice and Wheat Breeders Read the rest of this entry »

A row of corn stands tall inside the Monmouth, Ill. learning center.

It’s quiet right now at Monsanto’s Monmouth, Ill., Learning Center, as least from a visitor perspective. During the late spring and summer months, a steady stream of farmers, seed dealers, investors, academics, international groups and youth organizations tour the facility to learn about the latest seed technologies being researched and tested in the field.

“And farmers come for another reason,” says Tom Eickhoff, Learning Center manager. “They come with issues and problems they’re dealing with right now on their farms, and how we might be able to help.”

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Yesterday, we moved a step closer. Actually, 11 steps closer.

Every January, in conjunction with the first quarter financial results, Monsanto gives an update on the research and development status of our breeding and biotech traits. The update provides a look at projects that have advanced and new projects that have been added to the pipeline.  A total of 11 trait products moved forward in this year’s update, a new record for the company and good news for farmers who we believe can benefit from many of these innovations. Of those projects, five were completely new.

Based on conversations  had throughout the day, here are some of the areas that garnered the most attention and questions.

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A photo of cotton being grown on one of Monsanto's research farms

Last week, I rode with two colleagues from work over to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. We visited the Melvin Price Lock & Dam #26 just south of Alton, and then went on to Monsanto’s research farm at Jerseyville. One colleague, Nick, was working on a story about the lock and dam and its critical importance to agriculture (posted here); the other, Tyne, was developing a video feature on the research farm. As for me, well, I was on the trip mostly for the research farm visit, to listen to employees talk about what they do. They’ll be featured in a post in a few weeks.

What struck me about both visits was technology – two very different technologies that are critical for agriculture.

The technology that built Lock and Dam #26 was a collection of engineering and design disciplines. The lock is enormous; I didn’t ask the tour guide for the statistics on the amount of concrete used in construction but to see what’s constructed is to wish you had the contract for the concrete. (If you have to know, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brochure says it used 800,000 cubic yards of concrete to build the structure.) (That’s my home driveway times 123,000.) Technology meets water.

I can recall the controversy when it was constructed – some said it wasn’t necessary; it wasn’t environmentally sound; it would damage the river system; it would cost too much. But one thing is clear – it works. And it’s critical for agriculture in the Midwest, because the Mississippi River is the main means of transporting grain south to the Port of New Orleans for export. Little known fact: this was as true 200 years as it is today, and one of the reasons the British sought to capture New Orleans in the War of 1812 – to prevent American farmers from shipping their crops.

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