Monsanto buys Climate Corporation for $1.1 billion

St. Louis–based Monsanto in October announced plans to acquire the Climate Corp. of San Francisco, a company that describes itself as using “machine learning to predict the weather and other essential elements for agribusiness.” It provides farmers with specialized weather forecasting as well as a variety of insurance products to protect them against weather damage or other risks. This nearly $1-billion cash purchase is expected to benefit farmers by supplying them with information about the many factors that affect the success of their crops, according to Monsanto. “Monsanto and other companies face a problem with the need for farmers to purchase seed well before they will know whether the expensive engineered traits will be needed,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. “If Monsanto wants to convince farmers to pay more, maybe a lot more, for seed with engineered drought tolerance, it would be very helpful to be able to have some prediction of the likelihood of drought at the time of seed purchase. In the future, other climate or weather-related traits may also face the same dilemma.” Charles Benbrook of Washington State University in Pullman, who closely follows developments involving agbiotech, says, “Next-generation increase[s] in profits are in the tech fees, [which] are going to be driven by the perceived value of the technology package, and will go well beyond crop genetics plus GE [genetically engineered] traits.” The trend is to bundle products, he adds, and “Monsanto is hoping that adding detailed climate data to the mix, no doubt via electronic delivery to a farmer's GPS and precision ag machinery and record-keeping systems, will be one more reason to stick with the big M.”

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Fox, J. Monsanto buys Climate Corporation for $1.1 billion. Nat Biotechnol 31, 1064 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nbt1213-1064a

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