Can Monsanto Help Farmers Adapt to Climate Change?

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/shotaku/7574819664/in/photolist-cxmVZ3-e34u3U-7mki5h-3Wq7nh-3WkSLB-3WkS2k-5MNCkt-3Wq8bW-3WkSo2-8PBA81-a54uyJ-8PBuSh-8PykHT-fzKLSg-nZYUrC-c6a8EY-fA17kQ-aCPPV3-8EHAwa-8EHAkT-5tmU6d-6AKvq5-5oyrVG-8PBEvf-oj1VtB-fFJYo8-db4iCY-db4jj7-7zkaz-CJ8j-71SKJ7-atDHL1-q6ujid-gPCMJV-8HDeJF-7Tfa1-qk4ExM-bVXtvd-P8dgC-eaVNKm-abr9nY-5ohG9h-bwAHu2-4qrTCx-662hD4-3j2K2p-7HzSjB-4ahv2q-9S3dC-fV44ah"> Jane</a>/Flickr

At the world’s most reviled agriculture company, a big change is taking root that could help farmers—both in the US and around the world—adapt to climate change. As we reported in November, executives at Monsanto are plotting a major move into data and information services within the next decade. The company is working with Bay Area data gurus to provide super-accurate weather updates and farming advice to growers via their smartphones.

These new services can help farmers better predict climate trends that have been shaken up by global warming—in the last couple decades, according to Monsanto, corn production belts in the US have migrated about 200 miles north. And they can help farmers make more efficient use of water and potential pollutants like fuel and fertilizer. But some agriculture experts have raised concerns about whether Big Ag companies will responsibly manage farmers’ proprietary data like yield sizes and seed choices; at the same time, as my colleague Tom Philpott noted, Big Data could potentially give an outsized advantage to giant, monoculture farms, to the detriment of small farms and the environment.

Last week I talked with MSNBC’s Tony Dokoupil about whether Monsanto’s climate adaptation products are a bright spot on the company’s dark reputation. As Tony put it, “If my eco-outrage meter is on 10 when I think about Monsanto, how far should we dial it back?”

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate