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Increasing 'Crop Per Drop' Critical, Says Monsanto's Fraley

Tue, 05/04/2010 - 10:25am
Monsanto

LINCOLN, Neb., May 4, 2010 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Speaking before the University of Nebraska's Water for Food Summit, Monsanto Company Chief Technology Officer Dr. Robb Fraley echoed his company's commitment to help farmers double crop yields by 2030 while conserving natural resources, all while helping to improve the lives of farmers around the world.

"As the world meets the challenge of feeding itself while the population is growing, the efficient use of water will be a significant limiting factor," said Fraley. "The widespread adoption of improved agronomic practices, advances in breeding and improvements and adoption of biotechnology will help farmers squeeze more from every ounce of water to meet the demands of a hungry, growing world."

Fraley's comments come at a critical time, as recent reports from the United Nations and other leading authorities predict that by 2050 the world population is expected to increase 40 percent and the demand for food is expected to double. Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world's freshwater withdrawals for irrigation, and 60 percent of the food supply is produced by rain-fed agriculture. Yet, global water supplies face increasing demands from expanding urban populations and a changing climate holds unknown risks.

"Agriculture is at the center of unprecedented global demand for food and water security, energy needs and human health and nutrition demands while being challenged with climate change," Fraley said. "The availability of water to support these demands will likely be an ongoing production challenge."

To that end, in June 2009 Monsanto opened its Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg, Neb., which is designed for studying cropping systems comprised of genetics, agronomic practices and biotech traits, including water-use efficiency technologies such as drought-tolerant cropping systems. Research in drought tolerance and improved water management could offer farmers a way to reduce agriculture's impact on the environment by helping to stabilize yield in drought stress conditions.

Monsanto has also committed more than $2.6 million per day to research and development. This R&D engine has created a pipeline of significant innovations for the future, such as crops that will continue to thrive under stresses such as drought conditions. Success with these advancements in biotechnology and breeding is helping to make agriculture more productive and more profitable for farmers, as well as more efficient and sustainable for the earth.

"Agricultural productivity has the potential to play a fundamental role, and increasing the 'crop per drop' is vital," concluded Fraley.

More information on the University of Nebraska's Water for Food Summit conference is available at http://waterforfood.nebraska.edu/2010/.

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