More Monsanto Sustainability

Laura McNamara

The potential for increasing yields exists everywhere if you ask Michael Doane. Michael is the Sustainability Team Lead for Monsanto. He spoke at the Monsanto discussion on sustainability on the 2008 Farm Progress Show last week. After his speech, I caught up with him and we spoke more about how he thinks the world will answer the global food demands of the future.

While Michael says a big portion of global food needs will be met in developing countries that have a huge potential for improving crop yields, he says there is still a lot of opportunity for increasing yields in the already yield-efficient U.S. Modern technology such as biotech, Michael says, means farmers in the U.S. still have a landscape that’s wide open with opportunity.

“If you just look at some of the yields that have been achieved in some very optimized conditions, it suggests that we’ve got a long ways to go before we’ve tapped yield potential [in the U.S.],” Michael said.

A place of great opportunity in the developing world though, is Malawi.

“Malawi is a great example,” Michael said. “Malawi is a country that wasn’t meeting itself. It’s corn yields were basically ten percent of the United States on an annual basis. Just by using hybrids, moving away from open-pollenated corn varieties to hybrids and using fertilizers, they’ve increased their yields almost four-fold in just a very short time. So rapid improvement can be made where they haven’t been using technology, but we think there’s going to be yield growth go on globally. It’s really going to depend on whether farmers are going to have new tools, and access to those tools and how liberally they can use those tools.”

It will be an effort that Michael says will move and grow within industry.

“There’s some strong scientists to scientists efforts, farmer to farmer efforts,” Michael said.”Fifteen years ago nobody had experience with technology but now the experience is there.”

Michael says more than 25 countries are using biotech crops. He adds that biotechnology is at the forefront meeting the world’s food needs.

You can listen to my interview with Michael here: fp-08-doane2.mp3

You can also download the interview with this link.

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AgWired coverage of the 2008 Farm Progress Show
is sponsored by: BASF and New Holland

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Comments 6

  1. Michael Doane is far too modest.

    If you compare corn production in Iowa to corn production in Africa, the possibilities of improving yields in Africa completely overshadow what might be done in Iowa.

    In Iowa, a five percent increase in corn production would be viewed as a breakthrough–as it has been, with the advent of GM crops.

    In South Africa and the Philippines, GM corn has led to self-sufficiency in a way their farmers scarcely could imagine. In Brazil, GM soy has made the nation an exporting powerhouse. India has become a net exporter, rather than importer, of cotton–because of GM pest resistance.

  2. Michael Doane is far too modest.

    If you compare corn production in Iowa to corn production in Africa, the possibilities of improving yields in Africa completely overshadow what might be done in Iowa.

    In Iowa, a five percent increase in corn production would be viewed as a breakthrough–as it has been, with the advent of GM crops.

    In South Africa and the Philippines, GM corn has led to self-sufficiency in a way their farmers scarcely could imagine. In Brazil, GM soy has made the nation an exporting powerhouse. India has become a net exporter, rather than importer, of cotton–because of GM pest resistance.

  3. Michael Doane is far too modest.

    If you compare corn production in Iowa to corn production in Africa, the possibilities of improving yields in Africa completely overshadow what might be done in Iowa.

    In Iowa, a five percent increase in corn production would be viewed as a breakthrough–as it has been, with the advent of GM crops.

    In South Africa and the Philippines, GM corn has led to self-sufficiency in a way their farmers scarcely could imagine. In Brazil, GM soy has made the nation an exporting powerhouse. India has become a net exporter, rather than importer, of cotton–because of GM pest resistance.

  4. Raising agricultural productivity in the less developed parts of the world has great potential and could benefit the biofuels industry and also the farmers.

    But there are provisos, firstly that those who farm the land are treated with dignity and allowed to continue farming without being expelled by those with more muscle, that the land itself is not overstressed and finally that they are not tied to one patented crop or crop protection system unless they are able to make a fair living from the relationship.

    There are other issues bigger than seed producer and farmers:trade and tariffs these also need to be fair to all and transparent.

  5. Raising agricultural productivity in the less developed parts of the world has great potential and could benefit the biofuels industry and also the farmers.

    But there are provisos, firstly that those who farm the land are treated with dignity and allowed to continue farming without being expelled by those with more muscle, that the land itself is not overstressed and finally that they are not tied to one patented crop or crop protection system unless they are able to make a fair living from the relationship.

    There are other issues bigger than seed producer and farmers:trade and tariffs these also need to be fair to all and transparent.

  6. Raising agricultural productivity in the less developed parts of the world has great potential and could benefit the biofuels industry and also the farmers.

    But there are provisos, firstly that those who farm the land are treated with dignity and allowed to continue farming without being expelled by those with more muscle, that the land itself is not overstressed and finally that they are not tied to one patented crop or crop protection system unless they are able to make a fair living from the relationship.

    There are other issues bigger than seed producer and farmers:trade and tariffs these also need to be fair to all and transparent.

Comments are closed.