By Robb Fraley
Chief Technology Officer
Technology has played a key role in helping society progress over the years. Technology, through human innovation, tackles society’s toughest challenges, whether it’s disease, poverty, energy or hunger. It provides both short- and long-term solutions in improving our global community.
For decades, Monsanto has been innovating to help farmers grow more food more efficiently, effectively, and safely. We’ve spent a lot of time talking with farmers, but we haven’t done as much as we should to clearly share the stories around our innovations with the general public.
For example, take the corn rootworm. It’s one of the most devastating pests in the U.S., with the USDA calling it the “billion dollar bug.” If not properly managed, this bug can cause significant crop losses, which, in turn, could impact what families pay at their local grocery store.
During the past decade, we’ve offered farmers several superior product lines to battle corn rootworm. Since 2002, we’ve monitored millions of acres planted with this technology in the U.S. and found that these products continually demonstrate an outstanding level of performance and farmer satisfaction on greater than 99.8 percent of those acres.
Our commitment and efforts to help farmers deal with this pest don’t rest with products alone. Here are some highlights of what we’ve been doing in 2013 to help farmers manage the corn rootworm pest:
- We’ve committed an additional $3 million to the Corn Rootworm Knowledge Program to work with researchers and scientists to enhance the collective understanding of the corn rootworm. No single company will have all the answers in addressing this pest. Expanded public research will be beneficial to farmers, and ultimately will mean better food security for our global community.
- Our DEKALB® and Asgrow® brands hosted almost 20 agAcademies throughout the summer and across the Corn Belt to listen to farmers and offer insights on helping their business, including corn rootworm management. Hundreds of farmers attended these educational sessions, and I had the pleasure of speaking at several of them.
- We’re continuing to expand the availability of our corn products, which offer multiple protections against corn rootworm and make it easier for farmers to effectively plant their refuges (corn seeds without insect control traits).
- In July 2013, Monsanto’s Genuity® VT Triple PRO® RIB Complete® corn blend received a two-year registration extension from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, further extending this registration to September 2015.
As part of our commitment to invest in our R&D pipeline, farmers can look forward to the second half of this decade, when the anticipated arrival of Monsanto’s next-generation corn rootworm technology is expected. This corn rootworm control product will be used in stacked-trait corn to offer effective control and extended product durability with a unique third mode of action against the pest.
We’ve accomplished a great deal in the past decade to better manage this challenging pest, as we have with many of the other challenges Monsanto has tackled over the years.
That’s why I’m excited about where we’re going with corn rootworm management and what it will enable us to do, not only to help farmers, but to help lower food costs and improve food security for all of society.