Previously the ag industry and companies like Monsanto seemed to have a focus on a one-size fits all solution to crop protection and seeds. Although research indicates significant diversity within species existed in the age of hybrid corn, this was the era in which old school arguments about monoculture probably dug in along with the other critcisms that go along with 'big ag.'
convergence of big data and genomics, row crop agriculture is
transforming. Its not your grandparent's monoculture anymore. Companies
like Monsanto are both positioning themselves to compete in this new
environment and playing a major role in the transformation.
Recently I discussed an interview
on the Closing Market Report with Robb Fraley, Chief Technology Officer
at Monsanto and the kind of people they are hiring to help lead this
One challenge is, have those
that have spent the last decade nostalgically and critically looking
back at the way we used to do things missed this transformation? Will
they be willing to embrace its benefits going forward.
This may be part of what Vance Crowe, Director of Millennial Engagement at Monsanto is trying to address in his role. Recently I discovered the Shark Farmer podcast, and Crowe was a guest in one of the archived episodes. One part of the conversation really got me interested. Here Vance is describing the challenge that he discovered during his job interview that made him really want the job he has:
"if the company is what everybody on the outside thinks it is then I
get unfettered access...and if its not as dark as what people think it
is then you have just stumbled upon one of the greatest problems of our
age which is a really misunderstood company that is producing important
technology that really has world changing impact that people really
I always wondered, how is it that people get so enamored with Apple and its great products or embrace hybrid car technology, self driving cars, or pay premiums for food at Chipotle and Whole Foods because they think they are doing great things for the environment while shunning Monsanto and all of its technologies which are basically cutting edge green technologies (see links below). One thing they discussed in the podcast (my description not their words) was that historically the Monsanto that catered to yesterday's agriculture and had an obvious focus on its customer core, farmers, but did not really market to or emphasize outreach to consumers. I think that is an important and informing observation to make. And I think the solution going forward is a gate to plate strategy of communication, outreach, and transparency to help consumers at all levels better understand the transformation that is going on with modern sustainable agriculture.
Shark Farmer Podcast
The Biotech Story: As told in the literature
The Convergence of Big Data and Genomics in Agriculture
Not Your Grandparent's Monoculture
Hybrid Corn vs Hybrid Cars