Monsanto in the news this week with a report by Mother Jones titled Monsanto Just Made a Massive Mistake. The report follows up on EPA data indicating 117 complaints “alleging misuse of pesticide products containing dicamba,” affecting more than 42,000 acres of crops, including peaches, tomatoes, cantaloupes, watermelons, rice, peas, peanuts, alfalfa, cotton, and soybeans.
From the Mother Jones piece:
The trouble appears to stem from decisions made by the Missouri-based seed and pesticide giant Monsanto. Back in April, the company bet big on dicamba, announcing a $975 million expansion of its production facility in Luling, Louisiana. The chemical is the reason the company launched its new Roundup Ready Xtend soybean and cotton seeds, genetically engineered to withstand both dicamba and Monsanto’s old flagship herbicide, glyphosate (brand name: Roundup). Within a decade, the company wrote, the new GM crops will proliferate from the US Midwest all the way to Brazil and points south, covering as much as 250 million acres of farmland (a combined land mass equal to about two and a half times the acreage of California)—and moving lots of dicamba.
Meanwhile, Forbes reports that Monsanto’s Climate Corporation “is building a network of in-field sensors to expand the scope of soil, weather and other data flowing into its digital agriculture tools that help farmers increase crop yields and reduce costs.”
“We see it as the Amazon of agriculture, where we’re bringing additional apps up onto that platform and where the best apps win,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said.
From the Forbes piece:
Agriculture companies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on technologies that capture and analyze detailed data about plants, soil and weather to help farmers increase yields and lower costs. The companies hope to capitalize on what they believe is the biggest step forward in agriculture since biotech seeds.
But many farmers, squeezed by tightening farm profits, have not fully embraced the big data offerings.