Monsanto: ‘On the verge of a technology explosion’

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Agriculture, Genetically modified food

Monsanto’s CEO has said that the agricultural giant is on the verge of a technology explosion that it hopes will double yields in corn, soybeans and cotton by 2030, helping to meet increased demand for the crops.

Monsanto formed a collaboration with BASF back in 2007, pooling the two biotechnology firms’ resources in order to bring higher-yielding and stress resistant crops to market faster than the companies could separately, they said at the time.

Speaking at a meeting of investors in Grinnell, Iowa, the company’s chairman, president and CEO Hugh Grant said: "We see substantially increased demand from agriculture, and the most sustainable way to meet that demand is to create more yield on existing acreage.

“We have committed to using our technology to double yields in our three core crops - corn, soybeans and cotton - by 2030, while reducing our use of key resources by one-third per unit produced. Innovation has us well on our way to achieving this, with our most robust pipeline ever. We're on the verge of an unprecedented technology explosion that will deliver the types of products growers want most - those that offer greater yield and value."

He added that by 2012 Monsanto’s seed traits are expected to be worth 2.5 times as much as they were in 2007 – with gross profit forecast to increase to $7.3bn to $7.5bn.

New traits

The company said that it is on track with introducing seven of what it calls ‘high impact technology’ traits, at a rate of about one a year. These traits include drought-tolerant corn, higher-yielding corn and soybeans, and corn for better nitrogen-utilization – all of which have come about through Monsanto's collaboration with BASF – as well as insect-protected soybean technology for Brazilian farmers.

At present, the two most prevalent GM traits worldwide are insect resistance and herbicide tolerance, with the latter accounting for 82 percent of global GM crops acreage in 2007.

Half of the world’s GM crops are planted in the US.

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