Monsanto Surpasses Pollinator Habitat Goal, Doubles Number of Certified Conservation Sites

Monsanto's continued advocacy for biodiversity includes participation in broad-based efforts.

REUTERS

Monsanto Company (No. 43 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) announced that it has reached key milestones in protecting species and promoting sustainable landscapes, two major components of its biodiversity strategy.


Companies have a responsibility to protect and preserve biodiversity. Not only is it necessary to sustain life, provide habitat for wildlife, address climate change and protect waterways, biodiversity is also critical to agriculture and the ability to discover and develop new products for farmers.

In fiscal year 2016, Monsanto established 72 habitats at company sites across the U.S. for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. The company also doubled the number of its sites certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council(WHC), going from 15 to 31 over the last year. As part of WHC's Conservation Certification program, these certifications are built on the best practices of global recognition programs that implement meaningful wildlife habitat management and conservation education programs.

"Our commitment to establishing pollinator and wildlife habitats is an important part of our advocacy for protecting species and promoting sustainable landscapes, which are at the heart of our biodiversity strategy," said Pam Strifler, Monsanto Vice President, Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement. "This great accomplishment wouldn't have been possible without the dedication of our employees and collaborators. In addition to the work we're doing on our own grounds, we're providing funding support for far-reaching initiatives that address monarch habitat, honey bee health, reforestation and seed collection and preservation efforts."

As the primary corporate funder of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's (NFWF) Monarch Butterfly Conservation Fund, Monsanto pledged $3.6 million over three years, to provide habitat restoration, education and outreach, and milkweed seed and plant production. Through thispartnership with NFWF and five federal agencies, in 2015 and 2016 the fund supported 47 projects and leveraged $2.4 million from Monsanto with $5.7 million from other partners and over $12.2 million provided as a match by the organizations receiving the grants for a total conservation impact of more than $20.3 million. This is in addition to nearly $800,000 in Monsanto funding since 2014 to other organizations with similar goals. The expected impact of the 2016 NFWF-funded projects, exclusive of funds not yet distributed, included:

  • 16,000 acres of habitat created
  • 600 pounds of native plant seeds produced
  • 453,000 milkweed* seedlings planted
  • 200,000 milkweed plants made available free of charge
  • 176,000 persons reached

Monsanto also works closely with Pheasants Forever, which helped the company develop many of the pollinator habitats at its sites. "Working with Monsanto to establish spaces where monarchs and pollinators can flourish is consistent with our mission to conserve pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs," said Pete Berthelsen, Director of Habitat Partnerships, Pheasants Forever. "Upland birds such as these thrive in the same types of habitats as monarchs. That's why we were excited to receive funding to apply our expertise and help create habitats at many of Monsanto's manufacturing sites and other facilities."

Many of the habitats are along the monarch's North American migration route. Each year, millions of the iconic butterflies travel from the U.S. and Canada to overwinter in Mexico. Monsanto, U.S. agriculture, and conservation leaders made the journey to the monarch's overwintering site earlier this year to raise awareness of its struggle to survive and the need to work together to preserve this delicate species.

Promoting biodiversity is just one way that our commitment to sustainability supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal s. More information on the company's advocacy for biodiversity and its overall commitment to sustainability can be found in the Monsanto 2016 Sustainability Report, Growing Better Together .

* Milkweed is the primary habitat for monarch butterflies and the only source of food for their caterpillars.

Monsanto Company Awards $500,000 Grant to T-REX to Support New Resource Center for Geospatial Innovation

Currently more than 200 small companies and start-ups are housed at T-REX, which is also located about two miles away from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency construction site.

REUTERS

Originally Published by Monsanto.

In its continued support of geospatial innovation, Monsanto Company has awarded a $500,000 grant to T-REX, a St. Louis based non-profit business and technology incubator to support the creation of a new Geospatial Resource and Innovation Center.

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Monsanto and 2Blades Foundation Collaborate to Combat Devastating Soybean Disease


"Collaboration with industry is vital to ensure that new discoveries made in the lab can lead to innovations that will prevent crop losses caused by plant disease," said Dr. Peter van Esse, leader of the 2Blades Research Group at TSL.

REUTERS

Originally Published by Monsanto.

Monsanto Company and charitable organization 2Blades Foundation (2Blades) have formed a new collaboration to discover novel sources of genetic resistance to Asian soybean rust (ASR). 2Blades will deliver resistance genes in further collaboration with The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL, Norwich, UK), the leading global institute for research on plant-pathogen interactions, and the Universidade Federal de Viçosa (UFV), a leading university in agricultural sciences in Brazil.

Asian soybean rust, a disease caused by the fungus Phakopsora pachyrhizi, results in yellowing and browning of soybean leaves and can lead to premature senesence and significant yield loss. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), P. pachyrhizi has spread rapidly and causes yield losses from 10 to 80% in Argentina, Asia, Brazil, Paraguay, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.1

"Asian soybean rust is an ugly and expensive disease that can devastate farmers' harvests," said Jeremy Williams, Monsanto's biotechnology and ag productivity innovation lead. "Current fungicide treatments can provide some control, but farmers need more tools – and the 2Blades research could help provide a durable solution as part of an integrated pest-management system."

2Blades' mission is to contribute to global food security by developing crops with long-lasting resistance to pathogens in order to reduce losses due to disease. By working with world-leading plant scientists, 2Blades seeks to discover new sources of disease resistance in nature and transfer them into important crops to extend the breadth of their immune system and secure yields.

"Collaboration with industry is vital to ensure that new discoveries made in the lab can lead to innovations that will prevent crop losses caused by plant disease," said Dr. Peter van Esse, leader of the 2Blades Research Group at TSL. "It is therefore exciting to see that our scientific expertise and knowledge on plant-microbe interactions will be combined with Monsanto's capacity to deliver solutions to farmers to tackle a key challenge in soybean cultivation."

"The management of soybean rust requires the integration of different approaches, including disease resistance. This collaboration will allow us to use cutting-edge technologies to speed up the identification of new resistance genes that can be used to deliver more sustainable solutions to soybean farmers, reducing the environmental and economic impact of ASR," said Prof. Sérgio H. Brommonschenkel at UFV.

In January 2017, Monsanto, 2Blades and The Sainsbury Laboratory announced a collaboration focused on tackling corn disease complexes such as stalk and ear rots that have the potential to significantly reduce yield. That research is ongoing and is independent of this new collaboration.

The ASR collaboration complements Monsanto's work to expand the global crop protection toolbox while enabling farmers to produce more with less of an impact on the environment. 2Blades retains rights to deploy new leads arising from the program in crops for smallholder farmers in the least developed countries, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Soybean is a crop of significant and increasing importance in Africa, with extraordinary nutritional, soil, and economic benefits. However, the presence of ASR throughout the African continent is a major factor limiting production.

Monsanto: Mark Edge on WEMA, the Fall Armyworm and farmers in Africa

Mark Edge, Director of Collaborations for Developing Countries at Monsanto, talks about WEMA, the initiative that uses Bt maize to eradicate a harmful pest and help smallholder farmers in Africa.

REUTERS

By Mark Edge

Originally Published by Monsanto.

My work at Monsanto over the years has offered me many new challenges – lately I'm working with a team on the complex issue of helping smallholder farmers in Africa get better seed to help them manage the threats to their maize crops.

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