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Question

OK, here is a real question: What percentage of American farmland is actually owned by Monsanto, as opposed to land owned by Monsanto customers, also as opposed to farmers who want to have nothing to do with Monsanto?

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Expert response from GMOAnswers Admin_1

Tuesday, 06/08/2013 17:08

Monsanto owns very little U.S. farmland—fewer than 15,000 acres—and we estimate that we lease about 30,000 more.  According to the USDA, there are approximately 922 million acres of farmland in the United States (crop-land and pasture-land combined).  Using those figures, we’d estimate that we own and lease approximately 0.005 percent of all U.S. farmland, or approximately 0.01 percent of all U.S. cropland.

 

Here’s a little bit of additional information about our operations:

 

  • First, we are not in the business of “farming” as most people think of it.  Farmers raise crops to harvest them to sell to consumers, use as animal feed or sell to grain handlers and processors, who sell the crops to food companies and retailers. 
  • Monsanto uses farmland for two primary purposes. Most acres would be devoted to the production of seed that we then sell to farmers. Other acres would be devoted to research, such as breeding better varieties of seed. Some of what we harvest is sold into normal grain channels (we would not want to waste it), but we do not sell grain that includes new GM traits that have not yet received government approval for sale as grain.

Regarding the rest of your question, we do not have any precise figures for the amount of land owned by Monsanto’s customers, versus by farmers who do not want to plant GMOs.  We know that in crops where Monsanto’s GM traits are available, they have been very popular with growers, accounting for a large majority of acres.  In 2012, we estimated that about 167 million acres in the United States were planted with seeds containing one or more of Monsanto’s GM corn, soybean or cotton traits.  We also offer GM traits for use in other crops (e.g., canola, alfalfa and sugar beets), but corn soybeans and cotton represent most of the acres.

 

There are some farmers who do not want to plant GMOs, either because they have some objection to the use of GMOs or because they have chosen non-GMO farming as a means to differentiate the marketing of their crops. One way to identify farmers who do not plant GM crops is to look at estimates for organic farming.  The USDA estimated that there were 2.7 million acres of cropland in organic production in 2008, of a total of about 4.8 million acres of organic farmland.  Given the growth of organic sales, those numbers are probably higher today. And, of course, there are probably some farmers who are not using organic methods who nonetheless do not want to plant GM crops, but we do not have any figures for how many acres they own.