ST. LOUIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) today announced updates on advancements made across its research and development (R&D) pipeline over the past year. A record number of projects advanced phases across the company’s five R&D platforms: data science, plant breeding, plant biotechnology, crop protection and ag biologicals. This marks the fifth consecutive year that more than 20 projects advanced in the pipeline.
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“Farmers’ abilities to meet global food and fiber needs will continue to be constrained by land and water availability, and complicated by climate change – so we need to grow more crops, but we need to do it using less water and less energy,” said Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto’s executive vice president and chief technology officer. “Our work contributes to each of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many of the projects in our R&D pipeline reflect our commitment to climate-smart practices in modern agriculture. Farmers will continue to fight off drought, yield-robbing weeds, destructive insects, and plant diseases all while trying to optimize the opportunities uniquely embedded in their fields. And our researchers’ early adoption of data science innovations– especially artificial intelligence and machine learning – will help farmers accomplish their goals to the benefit of the environment and consumers.”
Monsanto’s R&D platforms support sustainable modern agriculture practices by delivering innovations that:
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, as much as 40 percent of the world’s potential harvests are lost to damaging insects, weeds, and plant diseases each year. 1 Over the past century, the crop protection toolbox has grown larger and more effective, while evolving to enable farmers to produce more with less of an impact on the environment.
Key Monsanto R&D pipeline projects designed to help farmers combat threats include:
- Lygus and Thrips Control Cotton technology, which is advancing to Phase 4, is designed to protect farmers’ cotton crops from damage caused by lygus, thrips and fleahopper bugs. This technology has the potential to be the first to control all three cotton pests, while potentially reducing the amount of insecticides farmers spray on their plants to do so.
- Trecepta™ technology, advancing to launch in 2018, which is designed to help farmers protect their corn plants from attacks by damaging insects including fall armyworm, corn earworm, corn borers and cutworms.
- NemaStrike™ technology, which is designed to protect corn, soybean and cotton crops from tiny parasitic worms called nematodes that attack plant roots and negatively impact harvests. Also aimed at controlling nematodes, the Soy BioNematicide product being developed by The BioAg Alliance with Novozymes uses soil microbes to combat nematodes and advances to Phase 3.
- The Climate Corporation’s disease diagnosis and identification technology, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify and diagnose diseases in corn, soybeans and wheat in real time to help farmers move quickly to protect their crops during the growing season. This technology advances from development to the pre-commercial phase.
- New formulations and combinations of proven weed killers in products like Harness® Max Acetochlor Premix, advancing to launch in 2018, Next Gen Dicamba Premix (Phase 2) and Acetochlor + Dicamba + 3rdMOA Premix (Phase 1), which will eventually help farmers manage weeds that steal sunlight, water and nutrients from crops.
“On our family farm, we strive to use the products, technologies and information that allows us to be highly productive and efficient in growing crops in a sustainable way for the land and society. Understanding the interaction of these enables us to use the right products at the right time with confidence,” said Matt Helms, Monsanto’s global ag productivity technology lead. “Our R&D pipeline has a broad range of technologies. Some of these are more familiar such as next-generation herbicide premixes in new combinations, and others are breakthrough and novel such as on-seed soil microbes and artificial intelligence.”
In addition to anticipating and combatting threats to their crops, farmers seek to make the most of the land they cultivate. Each square foot of soil represents potential for a bountiful harvest, and Monsanto’s research – from placing soil microbes on seeds to improving a plant’s output through selective breeding – seeks to help farmers maximize that potential. R&D pipeline projects that take this approach include:
- Corn BioYield 2, expected to be branded Acceleron® B-360 ST upon regulatory approvals, which uses soil microbes as a seed coating to increase a plant’s ability to take up nutrients. Produced by The BioAg Alliance, this project advances to Phase 4 based on another year of strong performance in the field.
- Monsanto’s High-Density Corn System, advancing to launch in 2018, which uses conventional breeding to help corn seeds thrive when placed closer to each other in the field. Farmers can use this closer spacing to maximize the number of plants in each field (called plant population), to make the most out of their sunlight, water, and soil nutrients.
- Monsanto’s vegetable breeding program which provides growers with an average of over 125 new varieties across 20 produce crops each year, providing incremental improvements in agronomic performance, flavor profile, size, color, or shape. These annual breeding upgrades help Monsanto’s vegetable growers to be more successful with their customers in the produce value chain.
- The Climate Corporation’s advanced seed scripting tools which enable farmers to combine multiple data sets – the farmer’s unique field data, combined with weather, soil and field research data – to deliver seed planting prescriptions that are tailored to specific genetics and their unique yield goals.
“Optimizing opportunity each year begins with getting seeds off to a strong start,” said Dr. Shannon Hauf, Monsanto’s global cotton, wheat and specialty crops lead, who grew up on her family’s farm. “Continued innovations in modern agriculture will advance the use of microbial seed coatings to give those plants an early boost and maximize plant populations with the latest hybrids – all while using data science to place those seeds in the optimum location for maximum growth potential.”
Farmers are dedicated to soil, water, and energy conservation within their operations. In today’s changing climate, farmers continue to come up with innovative approaches to conserve nature’s resources, all while applying other inputs like seed, pesticides, and fertilizer more precisely. As they do so, modern agriculture is working to provide them with the tools necessary to do the job.
Key R&D pipeline projects to help farmers use resources more efficiently and apply farm inputs precisely include:
- The Climate Corporation’s nitrogen management technology which uses a combination of data sources to help farmers decide when and how much nitrogen to apply in order to help their crops thrive and reduce overuse, which can lead to runoff. Further, The Climate Corporation’s HydroBio irrigation management platform and advanced irrigation research analyzes crop irrigation data so farmers can more efficiently manage water use.
- Advancements in herbicide-tolerant systems like Fourth Generation Herbicide TolerantCotton(advancing to Phase 2) which are expected to further enable no-till and conservation-tillage farming, preserving the top layer of the soil and limiting its runoff into streams, rivers and lakes. Untilled soil stores carbon that’s been absorbed through crops and plant materials and keeps it from the air.
- In addition to Trecepta technology, incremental advancements in insect-resistant systems – like Fourth Generation Above-Ground Insect Protection for Corn (advancing to Phase 3) – that can help reduce the number of pesticide applications farmers must apply, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions with fewer passes over the field.
“Data-driven innovation is about more than producing higher yields,” said Dr. Sam Eathington, chief science officer for the Climate Corporation. “It’s also about helping farmers manage critical inputs like seed, fertilizer and water so they can get the most out of every acre in a more sustainable way.”
Monsanto’s Scientists Embrace Data Innovations – Including Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning – For The Benefit Of Our Farmer Customers And Consumers
The world of agriculture is being transformed by data science, from algorithms and analytics to deep learning and artificial intelligence. In the face of climate change, advancements in these areas are helping farmers grow the food we need while using natural resources more efficiently.
“Monsanto’s plant breeders, climate scientists and soil microbiologists were among the industry’s earliest adopters of data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning – and for good reason,” said Anju Gupta, Monsanto’s information technology partnerships and outreach lead. “In the years I spent as a plant breeder and quantitative geneticist, my teams used predictive analytics to help us decide which products to advance, which ultimately led us to knowing the potential of every seed before it was even planted. In much the same way, our vegetable research team is developing modeling tools that predict the flavor performance of our products in crops such as tomato, and our soil microbials team relies on analytics to evaluate hundreds of thousands of strains each year.”
Information about Monsanto’s R&D Pipeline, Projects and Collaborations
Monsanto believes that innovation, continuous improvements in farming practices, and collaborations across the public and private sectors can truly make a difference for farmers, the consumers they serve and the planet. Additional information on Monsanto’s R&D pipeline, the projects outlined in this release and others, are available online at www.monsanto.com/pipeline. Monsanto’s R&D pipeline will be showcased as part of the company’s fiscal 2018 first quarter earnings announcement today, and Climate Corporation and The BioAg Alliance will provide detailed project updates in separate releases. For more information about today’s earnings announcement, the news release and supporting resources are available at www.monsanto.com.
About Monsanto Company
Monsanto is committed to bringing a broad range of solutions to help nourish our growing world. We produce seeds for fruits, vegetables and key crops – such as corn, soybeans, and cotton – that help farmers have better harvests while using water and other important resources more efficiently. We work to find sustainable solutions for soil health, help farmers use data to improve farming practices and conserve natural resources, and provide crop protection products to minimize damage from pests and disease. Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities and others to help tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. To learn more about Monsanto, our commitments and our more than 20,000 dedicated employees, please visit monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at twitter.com/MonsantoCo.
Cautionary Statements Regarding Forward-Looking Information
Certain statements contained in this release are “forward-looking statements,” such as statements concerning the company’s anticipated financial results, current and future product performance, regulatory approvals, business and financial plans and other non-historical facts, as well as the pending transaction with Bayer Aktiengesellschaft (“Bayer”). These statements are based on current expectations and currently available information. However, since these statements are based on factors that involve risks and uncertainties, the company’s actual performance and results may differ materially from those described or implied by such forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, among others:risks related to the pending transaction between the company and Bayer, including the risk that the regulatory approvals required for the transaction may not be obtained on the anticipated terms or time frame or at all, the risk that the other conditions to the completion of the transaction may not be satisfied, the risk that disruptions or uncertainties related to the pending transaction could adversely affect the company’s business, financial performance and/or relationships with third parties, and the risk that certain contractual restrictions during the pendency of the transaction could adversely affect the company’s ability to pursue business opportunities or strategic transactions; continued competition in seeds, traits and agricultural chemicals; the company’s exposure to various contingencies, including those related to intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance and the speed with which approvals are received, and public understanding and acceptance of our biotechnology and other agricultural products; the success of the company’s research and development activities; the outcomes of major lawsuits, including potential litigation related to the pending transaction with Bayer; developments related to foreign currencies and economies; fluctuations in commodity prices; compliance with regulations affecting our manufacturing; the accuracy of the company’s estimates related to distribution inventory levels; the levels of indebtedness, continued availability of capital and financing and rating agency actions; the company’s ability to fund its short-term financing needs and to obtain payment for the products that it sells; the effect of weather conditions, natural disasters, accidents, and security breaches, including cybersecurity incidents, on the agriculture business or the company’s facilities; and other risks and factors detailed in the company’s most recent periodic report to the SEC. Undue reliance should not be placed on these forward-looking statements, which are current only as of the date of this release. The company disclaims any current intention or obligation to update any forward-looking statements or any of the factors that may affect actual results.