Turning Science into Business, Lessons from Monsanto

On Monday, November 17, 2014 the Student Fellows of the Center for Risk Management  Education and Research had the opportunity to hear from Kevin C. Glenn, Ph.D. a Senior Science Fellow at Monsanto about the role that this company is playing in shaping the agriculture of the future around the globe.

Dr. Glenn’s talk named: “Bringing New Technologies to Agriculture” included different topics ranging from the current global security problem to the detailed process of research and development that Monsanto follows.

Our current agricultural outlook together with the population growth makes it evident that by 2050, 2 billion more people are joining us for dinner. Does that call for a bigger table? Probably more food would be the biggest concern in this context, with a key question being “How do we produce more food with our available land and resources?” Founded more than 100 years ago, St. Louis headquartered, Monsanto has a fascinating history of success that since the 1980s includes leading the research, development and production of genetically engineered crops with global outreach that has ultimately contributed to increase the efficiency in crops production.

Rising population, changing climate, declining arable land per person and changing economies and consumer trends are just some of the factors that motivate Monsanto’s role in our world, as well as scientists working for Monsanto, like Dr. Glenn. In the U.S and in other countries around the world, agriculture has evolved from labor intensive, small farms systems to a more sophisticated, highly productive and mechanized system where the number of farms is decreasing while size is increasing.

The scientific discoveries that create new products  is not a fast or easy process, but we were impressed to hear that in the initial phase of research at Monsanto, less than 1 of every 100 ideas makes it to be a final marketable product, and this process can take more than 10 years. This shows Monsanto’s high level of commitment and its efforts to contribute to the global food security and food safety challenge. One of the interesting topics that caught our attention during the presentation was the historical development of knowledge in the biotechnology area.  It was interesting that many of the discoveries needed for engineering plants was pioneered by European scientists and then brought here to the United States, yet now the European Union is hesitant to cultivate GMO’s for human consumption.

The Fellows at the Center for Risk Management, Education and Research greatly enjoyed and very much appreciate Dr. Glenn’s knowledge and openness to share his experiences with the center. This is surely a step in the right direction of educating the new generations about technology in agriculture.

Dr. Kevin Glenn from Monsanto talks to CRMER students at Waters Hall

Dr. Kevin Glenn from Monsanto talks to CRMER students at Waters Hall

Claire Newman and Mario Ortez

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