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  • Monstanto responses to public comment

    Letter from Monsanto

    December 22, 2016 
    Mr. C.H. Huckelberry 
    County Administrator 
    Pima County Governmental Center 
    130 W. Congress Street, Floor 10 
    Tucson, AZ 85701-1317 

    Dear Mr. Huckelberry, 
    I am writing in response to your letter of November 28, 2016 regarding Monsanto Company’s greenhouse project in Pima County and, as you requested, have enclosed a document providing responses to the questions raised at the Pima County Board of Supervisors November 22, 2016 meeting. 
    Monsanto, who we are  

    In growing our food, farmers face some tough challenges as the world’s population continues to grow. We work daily to provide farmers with a broad range of solutions, including seeds, crop protection products and data services, so they can have better harvests, while using fewer resources (land, water and other natural resources), and make a more balanced plate of food more accessible for everyone. 

    Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities, communities and others to help tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. To address these ever increasing challenges collaboratively, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production. We partner with many communities, and engage in numerous conversations online, globally. These conversations are much needed to help find sustainable solutions to those challenges. 

    Our greenhouse in Pima County

    [See the greenouse in operation via this video]

    Many farmers in Arizona continue to freely choose to plant seeds developed and marketed by our company for the benefits they provide. In addition, we have an existing world-class cotton seed R&D site in Casa Grande, Arizona (since 2010). 

    With sustainability at the heart of the design, we plan to construct and operate a global best-in-class agriculture greenhouse on seven acres in Marana, Pima County, Arizona, to develop corn seeds for farmers in the US and around the world. 

    Arizona’s climate and growing conditions offer a favorable environment in which to maintain plants year-round, while using fewer resources such as land, water, energy, and nutrients, when compared with other fields or greenhouses elsewhere. A greenhouse helps manage exposure to weather variables otherwise encountered in open field environments. The site’s abundant sunlight will be used to manage temperature, light and irrigation to optimize growing conditions for plants. 

    We plan to construct a 100 percent water-recapture and recycling system which means we will use only one-fifth of the water normally used on an open field of corn. The smaller footprint combined with advanced automation enables precise management of plant diseases and insect control, enabling us to use fewer agricultural inputs. In addition, all inbound and outbound air will be filtered and controlled – so plants have the right climatic conditions and levels of humidity. 

    People are at the heart of all we do. We are humbled to be consistently rated among the world’s Great Places to Work® and by the recognitions we have received for our efforts in various communities around the world. We anticipate employing 40 to 60 people at the site in roles ranging from HVAC engineers to plant biologists, and with improving ergonomic conditions for our employees in mind, we will have automated operations and movable planting benches. 

    As envisioned, this site will have a greenhouse, accompanying corn seed processing facilities, a composting facility, an office building, and a water tank – at a total project investment of approximately $100 million. 

    Addressing questions and concerns 

    We have reviewed the concerns and questions raised at the November 22nd meeting, which relate to three areas: agriculture inputs, Monsanto, and the planned greenhouse in Pima County. Many of these questions are not new, and have been addressed previously by Monsanto and other third-parties on publicly available websites. We have enclosed a document detailing our responses and, where appropriate, providing links to credible third-party resources. 

    Listening and engaging in constructive dialogue is important to us. We do not shy away from listening to concerns and working to really understand how we can better communicate who we are and what we do, whether it is in personal or community dialogues, broad public discussions, or multi-stakeholder forums around the world. We appreciate this opportunity to provide additional information about agriculture, who we are, and the Pima County greenhouse. 

    We continue to engage with and address concerns and questions of those who are genuinely interested in sustainable agriculture, who we are, and what we do, and welcome anyone who wants to learn more about Monsanto to ask a question or come have a conversation at discover.monsanto.com

    We hope the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Pima County Agricultural Science Advisory Commission, and Pima County members of the public find this letter and the enclosed detailed information helpful as the Board of Supervisors evaluate our Free Trade Zone Property Tax Relief Proposal. 
    Monsanto PowerPoint on its Avra Valley greenhouse proposal
    Yours sincerely, 
    For Monsanto Company 
    George Gough 
    Director – Government Affairs


    Video of public comment from Nov. 22, 2016 Board of Supervisors Meeting
    Video of public comment from Dec. 13, 2016 Board of Supervisors Meeting
    Video of public comment from Jan. 17 Board of Supervisors Meeting
    Written comment received by the County on the Monsanto proposal
    Additional written comment received by the County

    Responses to questions raised with the Board of Supervisors regarding Monsanto Facility in Pima County

    A. Response to some concerns regarding the Monsanto’s business, innovations, and partnerships

    In growing our food, farmers face some tough challenges as the world’s population continues to grow. We work daily to provide farmers with a broad range of solutions, including seeds, crop protection products and data services, so they can have better harvests, while using fewer resources (land, water and other natural resources), and make a more balanced plate of food more accessible for everyone.

    Through programs and partnerships, we collaborate with farmers, researchers, nonprofit organizations, universities, communities and others to help tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges.

    To address these ever increasing challenges collaboratively, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production.

    We have pledged to listen more, to consider our actions and their impact broadly, and to lead responsibly. We realize consumers, farmers, and the food and agricultural industry each have a stake in how crops are grown and food is produced. We strive to be transparent about what we do, the science that supports our research and product innovation, and the peer-reviewed proven safety records of our products.

    We help farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our products and services help farmers to use data science to grow food in a more sustainable and carbon-neutral way. We have made commitments and taken actions to enhance honey bee health; create a healthier ecosystem for monarch butterflies; and help rural communities preserve their forest-farm ecosystem, prevent illegal deforestation and protect local species.

    We believe in the coexistence of all types of farming practices, and in farmers’ individual freedom to choose the production method that makes most sense for their goals – be that growing crops using conventional methods, or with genetically-modified seeds and other modern techniques, or by following organic practices.

    Something else it may interest you to know is that we provide a broad range of seeds and services that can benefit organic farmers as much as they do conventional farmers. Many of our farmer customers produce both conventional and organic crops. We invest in R&D to develop products and services that are every bit as useful for both conventional and organic farmers.

    We work diligently to ensure our technologies can benefit farmers of all sizes – small farmers and large farmers. In fact, a majority of our customers in Asia and Africa are smallholder farmers.

    Sixty percent of the seeds sown on earth are from non-commercial seeds – seeds saved and replanted by farmers. These traditional seed practices and commercial seed distribution systems have coexisted and operated successfully across the globe, enabling farmers’ individual choices.

    Listening and engaging in constructive dialogue are important to us. We do not shy away from listening to concerns and working to really understand how we can better communicate who we are and what we do, whether it is in personal or community dialogues, broad public discussions, or multi-stakeholder forums around the world. We partner with many communities, and engage in numerous conversations online, globally. We have had over 750 million interactions with people globally in the past 21 months on our websites and social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms across several languages – English, Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Bahasa Indonesia.

    We are humbled by the recognitions we have received for our efforts in various communities around the world, yet know we can always do more. We understand that people have different points of view on these topics, and it’s important that they are able to express and share them. For our part, we remain committed to transparency, dialogue and collaboration, and welcome anyone who wants to learn more about Monsanto to ask us a question at discover.monsanto.com. 

    B. Response to questions about agricultural inputs

    1. Weed management, glyphosate herbicide, and Monsanto’s Roundup® Agricultural Herbicides 

    Ever since the beginning of agriculture - thousands of years ago - farmers have been battling a common enemy: weeds. Weeds cause problems in farm fields because they steal water, sunlight and nutrients from the crops farmers are working hard to grow. 

    To help farmers protect their crops from weeds, Monsanto offers a variety of solutions. One of our popular products is called glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in our Roundup® branded agricultural herbicides. Farmers, as well as homeowners and others, have been using Roundup® and other glyphosate products for more than 40 years. 

    Sustainability is important to us. While glyphosate products work well on weeds, they also help farmers grow crops more sustainably. Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing agriculture and society overall. We’re trying to help farmers grow crops in ways that use resources efficiently and minimize impact on the environment. For example, glyphosate has helped farmers adopt what is called “conservation tillage.” With conservation tillage, farmers can disturb less soil and drive their tractors less. As a result, farmers can reduce soil erosion and carbon emissions, which is great for the environment. In fact, conservation tillage can reduce soil erosion by up to 90 percent and, in 2014 alone, reduced carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to removing nearly 2 million cars from the road.

    Glyphosate has a long history of safe use. It is one of the most widely used and thoroughly evaluated herbicides in the world. Many scientists have conducted studies and field research with glyphosate herbicides and published their results in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Multiple global regulatory authorities routinely review the latest safety data on glyphosate. In evaluations spanning four decades, the overwhelming conclusion of experts worldwide has been that glyphosate, when used according to label directions, does not present an unreasonable risk of adverse effects to humans, wildlife or the environment.

    Glyphosate is an herbicide that specifically inhibits an enzyme in the plant that is essential to plant growth – an enzyme that is not found in humans or animals. This contributes to the low risk to human and animal health when using glyphosate-based products according to label directions.

    No regulatory agency in the world considers glyphosate to be a carcinogen. In fact, a 2016 report by the U.S. EPA concluded that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” This is the same view held by regulatory authorities in Europe, the Joint WHO/FAO Meeting on Pesticide Residues and regulators around the world.

    In 2015, a group known as the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” based on selective use of data and non-standard approaches. This IARC classification is an outlier from 40 years of scientific data on glyphosate. Since the flawed IARC classification, the Joint WHO/FAO Meeting on Pesticide Residues, the U.S. EPA and regulators in Europe, Canada and other countries have all reaffirmed that glyphosate is not carcinogenic. You may find more information on glyphosate safety at www.monsanto.com/glyphosate/pages/is-glyphosate-safe.aspx

    2. Weed resistance

    While “superweeds” is a catchy phrase, weeds have been a primary challenge for farmers since the dawn of agriculture because they compete with crops for sunlight, water, nutrients, etc. Resistance to various methods of crop protection has always been a part of that challenge.

    Today, herbicides play an important role in helping farmers control weeds, but if a weed control program is not sufficiently diverse, there is potential for the development of resistant populations that can lead to a decline in a single herbicide’s effectiveness to control a weed population.

    Glyphosate is just one tool in the farmers’ toolbox for controlling weeds. Any farmer will tell you: there is no silver bullet. In fact, if a farmer relies too much on one tool, no matter how well the tool works, weeds can become resistant to the tool.

    To avoid and manage resistant weeds, farmers use a variety of tools and practices together. Proper management of weeds requires that we develop and share best farming practices, such as crop rotation, and that we use more advanced information tools to maximize efficiency.

    To help farmers deal with this challenge, we work with university researchers, industry partners and others to provide farmers with advice on how best to combine different tools and practices. We believe bringing diverse perspectives to the table is the most effective way to develop real solutions.

    3. Pesticide Safety and Regulation

    There’s no single right way for every farmer to protect their fields. That’s why Monsanto is committed to developing a diverse range of solutions, offering farmers more precise ways to apply the right protection in a more targeted way. Pesticides are one tool farmers can use, but they also understand it’s not a sound agricultural practice to use them alone, or in excess.

    Further, farmers do not wish to overuse products, so they also use many other methods such as mechanical tillage, proper timing of planting, and frequent crop rotation to protect their crops. But even with the most thorough commitment to these practices, pests can persist. That’s why, for many farmers, pesticides are one option that they use precisely and judiciously to help protect their crops.

    We take the safety of the products we make, sell and use very seriously. All pesticide products (including herbicides) must go through regulation, including extensive safety testing and enforceable label instructions for safe use.

    In the United States, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires a thorough safety assessment for each pesticide product before it approves the product for sale and use in the U.S., and the EPA continues to review approved pesticides regularly to ensure they remain safe for use. If you’d like more information about how the EPA evaluates the safety of pesticides, you can visit their website for a detailed explanation.

    You can also take a look at this article from Food Safety News, which discusses the safety of approved pesticide residues and tolerances; and we invite you to visit Top Questions about Pesticides: Discover.Monsanto.com.

    4. Enhancing health of pollinators – honey bees


    If you eat, you need honey bees. Your dessert, lunch box and morning pick-me-up all benefit from honey bee pollination. Without these important insects we risk losing watermelon, pumpkin, blueberries, and peaches along with beeswax, almonds and honey. Many of your favorite treats, drinks and snacks depend on the humble honey bee and other pollinators.

    Honey bee health is an important issue for everyone, including us here at Monsanto. As consumers, we are aware that we all rely on honey bees to pollinate many of the fruits, vegetables and other crops we enjoy.

    We believe honeybees are a critical commitment as one-third of our diet is made up of vegetables, fruits and nuts that depend on pollinators like honey bees to play an essential role in ensuring crop productivity, making healthy honey bees a critical component of global food security.

    There are many factors – including varroa mite, weather and disease – contributing to the challenges honey bees face and we are working with beekeepers, growers, academics and others to understand the challenges and help develop solutions.

    In 2013 we made a public commitment on honey bee health in helping launch a coalition of organizations to 1) improve honey bee nutrition, 2) invest in research of new technologies for varroa and virus control, 3) understand science-based approaches to studying pesticide impacts on honey bees and increasing awareness of best management practices among growers and beekeepers, and 4) enable economic empowerment of beekeepers.

    Through the Honey Bee Health Coalition we're joining farmers, universities, conservation groups and others to improve honey bee health. This issue is too big, too important and too complex for one company or group — we have to work together.

    When it comes to glyphosate and honey bees, specifically, it’s important to note that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carefully considers effects on many non-pest organisms, including honey bees, when they approve new pesticides for use. Furthermore, a 2014 study by Thompson et al, found “No adverse effects on adult bees or bee brood survival or development in honeybee colonies treated with glyphosate at levels that would occur in real life.” This finding is consistent with the EPA’s conclusion.

    We invite anyone interested in learning about our work around honey bee health to read this page on our website. As a member of the Honey Bee Health Coalition, we also encourage people to visit honeybeehealthcoalition.org to learn about some of the collaborative efforts underway.

    5.  XtendiMax™ herbicide with VaporGrip™ Technology (Monsanto’s Dicamba product)


     The Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System, is designed to provide farmers with more consistent, flexible control of weeds, especially tough-to-manage and glyphosate-resistant weeds, to help maximize crop yield potential. Weeds steal water, sunlight and nutrients from the crops farmers are working hard to grow. Additional tools can help improve productivity on farm and support farmers in bringing more food to harvest for consumers.

    Roundup Ready 2 Xtend® is Monsanto's newest soybean platform built on the current Genuity® Roundup Ready 2 Yield® soybean trait technology, which offers farmers the highest yield opportunity with more beans per pod and more bushels per acre. Roundup Ready 2 Xtend is the industry's first biotech-stacked traits in soybeans, providing tolerance to approved glyphosate and dicamba herbicides. XtendiMax™ herbicide with VaporGrip™ Technology, a straight-goods dicamba product, is the first dicamba product approved by EPA for use in the Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System.

    VaporGrip Technology is proprietary technology developed by Monsanto that helps prevent the formation of dicamba acid. XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology introduces a step-change reduction in volatility potential compared to dicamba formulations currently on the market today.

    Feel free to visit RoundupReadyXtend.com to stay up to date with the latest information on the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System.

    6.  GMOs – what are they? How are they developed? What’s their impact and potential? Are GM foods safe?


     What you eat is important. Not just the nutrition of your food, but how it's grown. How it impacts you, your family and the planet we share is serious business. We encourage asking questions, especially when it comes to your food.

    GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organism, and it can describe the way many products in industries like medicine, scientific research and agriculture are made. At Monsanto, when we say GMO, we're talking about seeds. They grow in the ground like any other seed, only GMO seeds have certain desirable traits setting them apart. These seeds grow into plants that might use water more efficiently, require less farmland or better withstand pests like bugs or weeds.

    GMO (or GM) seeds have been used by farmers for approximately 20 years. However, seeds have actually been modified through traditional plant breeding techniques for hundreds of years. Fruits like today's seedless watermelon and bananas, which are significantly different than earlier versions of these fruits, are a result of traditional plant breeding techniques. Modern GM seeds still make use of traditional plant breeding to add desired traits to plants—essentially combining cutting-edge and foundational plant science.

    After 30 years of research and assessments, the science and safety behind GM crops has been well established and strongly supported by the scientific community – and the May 2016 announcement from National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (USA) underscores this conclusion.

     GE crops have been tested and reviewed more than any other crop products in the history of agriculture. GMOs have been approved by dozens of governments around the world. Organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, American Medical Association and World Health Organization agree on the long-term safety of GMOs.

    70 countries including countries in North America and South America allow farmers to grow GMO crops, and in other areas, dozens of countries allow for importation of GMO products and food ingredients. Only after years of testing are seeds from those plants made available to farmers. With food demand expected to grow significantly by 2050 GMO seeds can help farmers sustainably grow enough.

    We are happy to share with you more links to short videos as well as other endorsements by Nobel Scientists, articles, and summaries of multi-year studies - which may help address some of your areas of interest on GM Crops benefits and safety.

    1. What is a GMO? How are GMOs made? Are GMOs safe? + GMOs: What are the Benefits
    2. 29-year Animal Feeding Study of 100 Billion Animals finds GMOs Safe
    3. European Union’s “no problem” finding after 10 years and €200 million in EU-funded research on GMO safety
    4. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – Safety Evaluation of Food Derived by Modern Biotechnology
    5. Codex Alimentarius - Principles for the risk analysis of foods derived from modern biotechnology
    6. Codex Alimentarius - Guideline for the conduct of food safety assessment of foods derived from recombinant-DNA plants
    7. Global independent science organizations weigh in on safety of GM crops
    8. "Are GMOs safe?" – an article in Slate
    9. How GMO crops can be good for the environment – an article in Bloomberg
    10. "Why we’re so scared of GMOs, according to someone who has studied them since the start" – an article in the Washington Post
    11. GMO Safety - The Genetic Literacy Project
    12. Can This Scientist Unite Genetic Engineers and Organic Farmers? - National Geographic

    7.  Arizona’s farmers choose to plant GM cotton seeds on their farms


    Many farmers in Arizona, especially cotton farmers, continue to freely choose to plant seeds with in-the-seed traits (cotton seeds with insect protection and herbicide tolerance traits) for the benefits they provide.

    Arizona’s farmers have freely chosen to plant cotton seeds with insect-protection traits (GM cotton), since they were introduced in 1996. As a result of farmers’ widespread adoption (over 97 per cent of Arizona’s cotton acres since 2007), overall insecticide use (Statewide average number of sprays per hectare) in cotton dropped 88 percent since 1995. Additionally, cotton yield losses due to insects (specifically pink bollworm) dropped from 4.49 percent in 1990 to 0 percent in 2009.*

    *Reference: Naranjo SE, Ellsworth PC. 2010. Fourteen years of Bt cotton advantages IPM in Arizona. Southwest Entomol. 35: 437-444

    8. The Facts on saved seed & farmer lawsuits. Monsanto’s commitment – Farmers & Patents

    Seed Patents & Monsanto: Give it a minute
    The Facts on saved seed & farmer lawsuits
    Monsanto's Commitment: Farmers & Patents

    Farmers are businesspeople who choose seeds that will provide them with the best productivity and highest profit/income. Farmers have the option not to purchase biotech seed and also have the option not to purchase seed from Monsanto. 60 percent of the seeds sown on earth are from non-commercial seeds – seeds saved and replanted by farmers. These traditional seed practices and commercial seed distribution systems have coexisted and operated successfully across the globe, enabling farmers’ individual choices. In the US, farmers can purchase seed from more than 200 different seed companies, many of which sell both conventional and biotech seeds.

    Patents on biological innovations are nothing new. The first was made by Louis Pasteur in 1873. Like all patents they are only granted for something that is novel, useful and not obvious.

    Agricultural companies like Monsanto patent seeds that have been bred or modified to have certain characteristics like corn that is drought tolerant.

    Hundreds of thousands of U.S. farmers choose to use patented seeds. And when farmers choose to purchase those patented seeds from us, we ask them to agree by contract to only use the seed to produce a single commercial crop and not to save those seeds at the end of the crop season for future planting.
    Enforcing patent law is not much different from the enforcement of other laws. Most people respect the law. Often, honest citizens will report those who break the law. The same is true for patent infringement involving saved seed. The vast majority of farmers respect patent laws and honor their agreements to abide by that law. When one farmer sees another farmer saving patented seed, they will often report them. Many of the tips Monsanto gets about farmers saving patented seeds come from other farmers in the same community.

    Usually, cases come to us when someone reports they believe seed is being saved illegally. Monsanto’s attorneys look into these allegations and may have a licensed private investigator look into the facts. If infringement is a possibility, a Monsanto manager will meet with the individuals involved. There have been farmers who were contacted and provided information that resulted in Monsanto closing the case. The vast majority of farmers who are presented with facts showing infringement admit the violation and pay a settlement.

    Since 1997, we have only filed suit against farmers 147 times in the United States. This may sound like a lot, but when you consider that we sell seed to more than 325,000 American farmers a year, it’s really a small number. Of these, we’ve proceeded through trial with only nine farmers. All nine cases were found in Monsanto’s favor.

    A very small number of farmers involved in patent infringement cases with Monsanto have sought publicity around their cases, and have characterized the company’s actions in a negative light. In some other situations, outside parties have portrayed particular cases negatively. We take exception to any misleading allegation of wrong-doing. Our employees and contractors respect our customers and their property.
    You may find even more information on innovation and patents here.

    9. Pursuing Sustainable Agriculture – Climate Change, and preserving Biodiversity


    Everything we eat requires land, water and energy to grow. The question is, how much? How can we use fewer resources while growing more food to meet needs of the planet? This is sustainable agriculture – scientists, farmers and researchers working to put food on our tables while protecting our planet.

    Climate change is caused by high levels of greenhouse gases like carbon monoxide which build up in the atmosphere and trap the sun’s heat. Everyone is affected by climate change and everyone contributes to it, too.

    Farmers and agriculture are uniquely positioned to combat climate change and its impacts. By using the right practices and products farmers can actually help remove as much or more greenhouse gases than they emit. In farming, tillage and the use of resources like fuel and fertilizer make greenhouse gases. Agriculture can offset these emissions thanks to crops which absorb carbon from the air and naturally store it in the soil. Carbon neutral crop production helps make it possible to grow some crops without contributing to climate change. It also improves soil health.

    Climate change is too big for one company to solve but we’re committed to doing our part. We firmly believe sustainable farming is critical to protecting the planet that feeds us. We are helping farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change.

    Together with partners, we are committed to being part of protecting natural habitats and the diversity of species. The increased demand for food, feed, fiber and biofuel requires careful management of biodiversity in order to protect our natural resources and ensure the continued viability of the ecosystem on which we rely. We work alongside farmers, consumers, universities, nonprofits and others to bring diverse perspectives and develop the most effective and creative solutions for protecting biodiversity.

    Our products and services help farmers to use data science to predict weather patterns, measure soil levels and protect the health of crops, to grow food in a more sustainable and carbon-neutral way. We have made commitments and taken actions to enhance honey bee health; create a healthier ecosystem for monarch butterflies; and help rural communities preserve their forest-farm ecosystem, prevent illegal deforestation and protect local species.

    10.  We believe in the coexistence of all types of farming practices

    We believe in the coexistence of all types of farming practices, and in farmers’ individual freedom to choose the production method that makes most sense for their goals – be that growing crops using conventional methods, or with genetically-modified seeds and other modern techniques, or by following organic practices.

    Here’s something critics may not want you to know about us. Monsanto provides a broad range of seeds and services that can benefit organic farmers as much as they do conventional farmers. Many of our farmer customers produce both conventional and organic crops. We invest in R&D to develop products and services that are every bit as useful for both conventional and organic farmers.

    Sixty percent of the seeds sown on earth are from non-commercial seeds – seeds saved and replanted by farmers. These traditional seed practices and commercial seed distribution systems have coexisted and operated successfully across the globe, enabling farmers’ individual choices. We work diligently to ensure our technologies can benefit farmers of all sizes – small farmers and large farmers. In fact, a majority of our customers in Asia and Africa are smallholder farmers.

    C. Our Greenhouse in Pima County

    With sustainability at the heart of the design, we plan to construct and operate a global best-in-class agriculture greenhouse on seven acres in Marana, Pima County, Arizona, to develop corn seeds for farmers in the U.S. and around the world.

    Arizona’s climate and growing conditions offer a favorable environment in which to maintain plants year-round, while using fewer resources such as land, water, energy, and nutrients, when compared with other fields or greenhouses elsewhere. A greenhouse helps manage exposure to weather variables otherwise encountered in open field environments. The site’s abundant sunlight will be used to manage temperature, light and irrigation to optimize growing conditions for plants.

    We plan to construct a 100 percent water-recapture and recycling system which means we will use only one-fifth of the water normally used on an open field of corn. The smaller footprint combined with advanced automation enables precise management of plant diseases and insect control, enabling us to use fewer agricultural inputs. In addition, all inbound and outbound air will be filtered and controlled – so plants have the right climatic conditions and levels of humidity.

    People are at the heart of all we do. We are humbled to be consistently rated among the world’s Great Places to Work® and by the recognitions we have received for our efforts in various communities around the world. We anticipate employing 40 to 60 people at the site in roles ranging from HVAC engineers to plant biologists, and with improving ergonomic conditions for our employees in mind, we will have automated operations and movable planting benches.

    As envisioned, this site will have a greenhouse, accompanying corn seed processing facilities, a composting facility, an office building, and a water tank – at a total project investment of approximately $100 million.

    1. Our greenhouse operations and use of agriculture inputs including pesticides

    One of the key benefits of a greenhouse is that it helps manage plants’ exposure to weather variables otherwise encountered in open field environments. In an open-air field, there are typically many environmental factors like insects, weeds and disease which may impact the growth of the plants. These problematic pests ultimately need to be controlled to ensure a successful growing season and harvest. In a greenhouse, there is significantly less need for insect, weed or disease control because these challenges are typically larger in outside environments than inside the greenhouse. For this reason, we expect a significant reduction in use of pesticides to helps plants grow and protect themselves inside the greenhouse as compared with open field environments. We also plan to incorporate organic approaches to control targeted insects and use more proactive approaches to manage insects like using beneficial insects – like ladybugs whose diet includes other insects. Lastly, as all the plants in the greenhouse will be in pots, there will be no weeds we’ll need to control, so we do not anticipate needing to spray herbicides inside the greenhouse.

    2. Sustainability at our greenhouse operations – Water use and recycling

    With sustainability at the heart of the design of this global best-in-class greenhouse. We are excited to partner with Priva, a company who focuses on sustainable environmental solutions. With a focus on water, together we have designed a water recycling system, so water not absorbed and evaporated from the plants is actively recycled. The water usage field equivalent average for Arizona for corn production is three acre feet, and by comparison our greenhouse is projected to operate at less than half of the water usage for corn production at 1.19 acre feet. In sum, we plan to construct a 100 percent water-recapture and recycling system which means we will use only one-fifth of the water normally used on an open field of corn.


    The 155 acres of property which we purchased is currently agricultural land where cotton and alfalfa were grown for many years. This type of agricultural production had a water annual allotment of 652.3 acre feet. In comparison, our total greenhouse operation is forecast to use only about 50 acre feet.

    3. Sustainability at our greenhouse operations – Organic and Conventional Farms

    We believe in the coexistence of all types of farming practices, and in farmers’ individual freedom to choose the production method that makes most sense for their goals – be that growing crops using conventional methods, or with genetically-modified seeds and other modern techniques, or by following organic practices.

    Something else it may interest you to know is that we provide a broad range of seeds and services that can benefit organic farmers as much as they do conventional farmers. Many of our farmer customers produce both conventional and organic crops. We invest in R&D to develop products and services that are every bit as useful for both conventional and organic farmers.

    The smaller footprint combined with advanced automation enables precise management of plant diseases and insect control, enabling us to use fewer agricultural inputs. In addition, all inbound and outbound air will be filtered and controlled – so plants have the right climatic conditions and levels of humidity. In addition, the air circulation will be managed inside the greenhouse and is actually a way we can regulate the temperature to create the best environment for growing plants.

    We plan to construct and operate this global best-in-class agriculture greenhouse to develop corn seeds for farmers in the US and around the world, hence this greenhouse will not impact any local organic farms in the surrounding area. We continue to be supportive of all types of farming practices – be that growing crops using conventional methods, or with genetically-modified seeds and other modern techniques, or by following organic practices.

    4. People and jobs at our greenhouse

    People are at the heart of all we do. We are humbled to be consistently rated among the world’s Great Places to Work® and by the recognitions we have received for our efforts in various communities around the world. We anticipate employing 40 to 60 people at the site in roles ranging from HVAC engineers to plant biologists, and with improving ergonomic conditions for our employees in mind, we will have automated operations and movable planting benches.

    As envisioned, this site will have a greenhouse, accompanying corn seed processing facilities, a composting facility, an office building, and a water tank – at a total project investment of approximately $100 million.
    To reaffirm, listening and engaging in constructive dialogue is important to us. We do not shy away from listening to concerns and working to really understand how we can better communicate who we are and what we do, whether it is in personal or community dialogues, broad public discussions, or multi-stakeholder forums around the world. We appreciate this opportunity to provide additional information about agriculture, who we are, and the Pima County greenhouse.

    We continue to engage with and address concerns and questions of those who are genuinely interested in sustainable agriculture, who we are, and what we do, and welcome anyone who wants to learn more about Monsanto to ask a question or come have a conversation at discover.monsanto.com.

    We hope the Pima County Board of Supervisors, the Pima County Agricultural Science Advisory Commission, and Pima County members of the public find this detailed information helpful as the Board of Supervisors evaluates our Free Trade Zone Property Tax Relief Proposal.



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    Economic Development

    Dr. John Moffatt,
    Director

    (520) 724-8450

    130 W. Congress, 10th Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701


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