Stories | May 5, 2017
Collaborating With Academics and Universities
Our society is facing some big challenges, like combating climate change, utilizing water and other resources more efficiently, and making a more balanced meal accessible for everyone. No one organization or company can do it alone, and Monsanto is certainly not an expert in all areas, so we partner with others like scholars and researchers at major universities to tackle some of these big challenges.
How We Work With Academics and Universities
Collaborating in academic and industry organizations and conferences
Many of our scientists belong to the same academic and industry associations as these university researchers. It is not uncommon for Monsanto scientists and university scientists to serve in leadership positions in these associations and to plan conferences, meetings and other events together. These interactions promote the exchange of information and ideas that advance scientific knowledge for all. Sometimes, if we invite or request an academic to speak at a particular meeting, we will cover the speaker’s travel expenses or provide an honorarium. This is a standard procedure for speakers at most events, regardless of the field or topic.
Sharing agronomic data and recommendations, as well as evaluating the safety and performance of new products through field trials
Our scientists and agronomists will turn to academic experts for agronomic advice and guidance to share with customers and others in the field, and university researchers approach our experts as well. These types of conversations ensure that information flows from the lab to the field and back.
We also routinely work with researchers at public universities to conduct field trials as part of the U.S. regulatory process. The trials are vital to develop important scientific information, to assess the performance of a new trait, and to generate the necessary environmental safety data required by regulatory authorities that evaluate commercial product approvals. Researchers conduct the trials in accordance with strict procedures and stringent auditing, reporting and compliance requirements. We sign contracts with the researchers who conduct these trials, and we pay fees to them and the universities for performing this highly technical research.
Serving as graduate degree advisors and academic mentors
Many Monsanto scientists are graduates of the world’s most respected graduate programs in agriculture, plant science and related fields. In some cases, the university researchers serve as academic advisers or dissertation committee chairs for Monsanto scientists, and these individuals continue to maintain professional relationships.
Co-authoring peer-reviewed research in academic journals
Our scientists are recognized experts in their professional fields as well, and many of our scientists routinely publish peer-reviewed papers in academic journals. Our scientists will collaborate and co-author papers with university researchers on topics of mutual interest. In addition, Monsanto scientists frequently serve as peer-reviewers or sit on the editorial boards of such publications.
Recruiting the best and brightest to work in agriculture
These university professors work with some of the best and brightest young minds in agriculture – the next generation of leaders who will move agriculture forward. When we are hiring for research positions, we sometimes turn to these professors to help us identify top talent. We also work with university researchers to administer the Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program, which encourages aspiring graduate students to pursue doctoral degrees in rice and wheat breeding.
Providing factual information and resources on agriculture, biotechnology and other matters to the general public.
We understand that consumers have questions about agriculture, and especially about GMOs. As part of the Council for Biotechnology Information, Monsanto is one of the founding members of the GMO Answers website. Through this website, experts from companies like Monsanto, industry leaders, farmers, and independent university researchers are answering a wide range of questions about GMOs and other agricultural practices. GMO Answers is transparent about its mission, purpose and funding on its website.
Advocating for sound public policy on issues relating to agriculture
Monsanto, like many companies and stakeholders, advocates our position on various topics before governments. Specifically, we advocate for supportive policies, regulation and laws that are based on the principles of sound science. Academic experts who share our science-based views sometimes advocate in support of the same policies. We occasionally share our opinions in similar public forums, and Monsanto employees and academic researchers sometimes share the stage at events. In every case, we thoroughly follow local laws and conduct routine audits to ensure our efforts are transparent, appropriate and legal.
Through Collaboration We Can Solve Big Challenges
By collaborating with some of this nation’s best academics and scholars, we are able to take bigger steps together to solve big challenges. Sharing resources, validating and testing each others work, as well as drawing big ideas from a greater talent pool benefits everyone. These relationships with these top universities are the fuel that drives modern agriculture and positive change. At Monsanto we believe that only by working together, with experts from all areas, will we be able to make critical contributions to agriculture and, ultimately, food security for all.