By Dr. Robb Fraley
Chief Technology Officer
In the early 1980s, I was part of small team that created a process to assist in the development of novel trait technologies. The process was called the Agrobacterium transformation process, and it’s still known by that name today. With processes like this one and continued advances in plant breeding, scientists at Monsanto, other companies, universities and research firms are able to develop crops with improved nutrition qualities, plants that can mitigate the effects of drought, and other important improvements to help farmers produce more food.
At the time we created the process, Monsanto applied for a patent. Almost 30 years later, the U.S. Patent Office has issued it. This is an important recognition of the valuable contribution that Monsanto’s scientists are working hard each and every day to discover, develop and deliver novel new agriculture innovations for farmers around the world.
Much has changed in the agriculture industry since the introduction of biotechnology crops in the mid 1990s. We have seen a clear demonstration that these crop products represent a valuable tool in protecting and advancing on- yields on farm. They have also generated a wave of secondary benefits far beyond the farm.
Importantly, biotech crops have contributed to improvements in agricultural sustainability. Research is underway in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, and the promise of even more improvements in yield and sustainability is being realized.
In 2011, nearly 17 million farmers grew biotech crops on approximately 400 million acres in 29 countries around the world. Many of the farmers that utilize biotech crops are also in developing countries – or approximately 90 percent of the 17 million farmers.
The Agrobacterium transformation process remains a significant method. It represents just one of several methods that researchers use today.
Monsanto is pleased to provide a royalty-free research license to academic researchers and the non-profit research community. It’s our hope that the granting of this license will spur additional research and improvements that farmers can use. And, that consumers can benefit from for years into the future.
Agricultural biotech is scale-neutral – it can be used on small farms and large farms alike. Researching and using new technologies will help us grow more and use fewer resources, and in the process improve the lives of farmers around the world.
Read the news release on Monsanto.com.