By Dr. Michael Lohuis
Monsanto Environmental Sustainability Team
(Originally published in Discover Monsanto)
The impacts of climate change are becoming clear to us all. My job is focused on how agriculture can be part of the solution. As more extreme weather patterns become more common, farmers and our food system are facing this challenge head on. Along with our partners in agriculture, we can help farmers adapt to the impacts of climate change, reduce emissions and even pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere!
I cannot imagine a problem that has more long-term consequences for our planet than climate change.
Feeding More People
By increasing the amount of food produced on our best farmland, particularly in the developing world where populations are growing fastest, we avoid the need to expand agriculture into carbon-rich forests or environmentally sensitive ecosystems.
Today, farmers are feeding more people without converting more prairies and forests to farmland. We call this “sustainable intensification” and it’s already helped slow deforestation and avoid global greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the best ways to practice sustainable intensification is by ensuring farmers have the best seeds possible – varieties that produce large harvests and better withstand the effects of climate change. For example, our drought-tolerant maize is already improving lives in Africa and similar initiatives are starting in Asia with rice. In the 28 countries growing genetically modified crops, carbon dioxide emissions are reduced because farmers don’t have to till their fields as many times to control weeds or apply as much insecticide to protect crops from pests.
Helping Farmers Make Better Decisions
Every year farmers make decisions about growing crops. Armed with the information they need to succeed, today’s farmers are making smarter decisions which leads to more a sustainable farming system and better harvests.
We’re harnessing the power of technology to make advances in agriculture.
The tools available help farmers predict exactly what nutrients and water crops need, and when they’ll need them. By combining weather and agricultural data our Climate Basic and Climate Pro apps enable farmers make better decisions about how to plant, fertilize, irrigate, protect and harvest.
Partnerships and Collaborations
We’re not acting alone. Collaborating with organizations like Conservation International helps rapidly growing nations like Brazil protect the forest while producing food for all.
If we’re serious about climate change, we can’t wait for someone else to act.
By partnering with growers, nonprofit organizations and research institutions, agriculture is poised to protect the health of our planet while reducing its carbon footprint. If we’re serious about reining in climate change, it’s clear we can’t wait for someone else to act.
We all need to be part of the solution. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working at a company that aspires to be part of the solution. To learn more about our efforts to help farmers grow enough food more sustainably, visit monsanto.com/climatechange.