Monsanto Funds Groups to Improve Mississippi River Water

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 6:17 PM EDT
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Monsanto Funds Groups to Improve Mississippi River Water

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ST. LOUIS, Missouri, December 8, 2008 (ENS) - Conservation and agricultural groups announced a new initiative today that aims to reduce the polluting sediment and excess agricultural nutrients that flow off farm fields into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico every year.

With a $5 million contribution from the St. Louis-based Monsanto corporation, The Nature Conservancy, the Iowa Soybean Association and Delta Wildlife will work with farmers to remove nutrients and sediment from agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.

The National Audubon Society will work with watershed residents to find ways of improving wildlife habitat and the quality of water entering the Mississippi River.

Jerry Steiner, executive vice president at Monsanto, said, "We're proud to work on this bold conservation initiative which we believe offers a sustainable vision for agricultural landscapes wherein farmers can support our world's growing needs for food, fiber and fuel in ways that not only preserve water quality, but also support diverse and abundant wildlife populations."

"The Mississippi River is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse," said Michael Reuter, who oversees The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership, which was created to help advance conservation of the world's major river systems, including the Mississippi.

The Nature Conservancy will conduct a three-year conservation pilot project in four watersheds in the Upper Mississippi River basin that include the Root River in southeastern Minnesota, the Pecatonica River in southern Wisconsin, the Boone River in northern Iowa and the Mackinaw River in central Illinois. The group will communicate its findings to crop producers to guide their farm stewardship decisions.

"This new effort by Monsanto will help show how we can make farming and conservation in the Mississippi River Basin more compatible so that nature and people alike benefit from improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat," said Reuter.

Crop producers will be directly involved in the projects of all the groups, and findings from all projects will be shared with them on a regular basis.

"Farmers are emerging in key leadership roles through their investments, and by participating in the planning and implementation of practices that perform environmentally. It's our goal to support them and help them make meaningful progress," said Roger Wolf, director of environmental programs at the Iowa Soybean Association.

The Iowa Soybean Association will conduct research on paired, micro-watersheds in the Boone and Raccoon Rivers. The group will coordinate monitoring, measurement and evaluation of on-farm resources and environmental outcomes in those watersheds.

"Our goal is to use science - research and data - to systematically develop and implement a suite of management techniques that help production agriculture measurably improve stewardship while maintaining or increasing profitability," Wolf said.

Data collected from all projects will be reported annually and is expected to generate new approaches that can be implemented more broadly across rural landscapes.

Delta Wildlife will install Best Management Practices, BMPs, on 1,000 sites on working farms in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta region of the Lower Mississippi Valley to reduce off-site movement of nutrients and sediments while improving fish and wildlife habitat and water conservation and documenting the results.

Bobby Carson, who chairs the Delta Wildlife Board of Directors, said, "While significant environmental benefits will certainly accrue from this project, it will also nurture a more sustainable and profitable future for agriculture."

Audubon will raise awareness of how people can be good stewards of nature in their own backyards. The project will focus on promoting specific individual actions to enhance water quality and habitat for birds and other wildlife, and Audubon will communicate these best practices throughout the Mississippi River watershed.

"Audubon is pleased to be part of this effort to foster a sustainable Mississippi River watershed for people and wildlife," said Roger Still, vice president of Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative. "We are committed to engaging individuals to take action in their own lives to help address the water quality and habitat issues in the watershed."

Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative, spanning the river's entire watershed, is focused on protecting and enhancing declining birds and their habitats; reducing excess nutrients to improve water quality; and restoring natural hydrology to sustain important river functions and reduce the loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana.

In addition to improving the health of the Mississippi River, the projects announced today are expected to generate best practices that can be integrated into management plans designed to conserve major river systems around the world.

Monsanto's proprietary herbicide-tolerant crops and biotech seeds are likely to play a role in the practices that are utilized as part of these projects.

Monsanto is the world's largest producer of glyphosate herbicides through its popular brand, Roundup. Crops that are genetically engineered to be tolerant of Roundup have allowed farmers to adopt no-till practices. Monsanto's genetically engineered Bollgard Cotton has reduced pesticide applications to cotton fields.

Monsanto says its genetically engineered crops already support "the conversion of farmland to no-till practices which greatly reduce erosion and the emission of greenhouse gas into our environment."

"Biotech seeds are one of the more important tools farmers use today to produce more crops, while reducing demand on vital land, energy and water resources," the company says.

Monsanto's development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of environmental activists.

Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a "potentially responsible party" for 56 contaminated Superfund sites in the United States.

Now, Monsanto says the company is working to develop nitrogen-use efficiency technologies and crop products that yield more on each acre of land.

Earlier this year, the company announced its commitment to develop, by 2030, seeds that can double crop yields and reduce by one-third the amount of key resources, such as nitrogen and water, required to grow crops.

Monsanto and its conservation partners, along with grower associations including the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association also announced today that they will be forming a Mississippi River Farm Nutrient Working Group. Additional information on this group will be announced next spring. Monsanto Funds Groups to Reduce Runoff to the Mississippi River

ST. LOUIS, Missouri, December 8, 2008 (ENS) - Conservation and agricultural groups announced a new initiative today that aims to reduce the polluting sediment and excess agricultural nutrients that flow off farm fields into the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico every year.

With a $5 million contribution from the St. Louis-based Monsanto corporation, The Nature Conservancy, the Iowa Soybean Association and Delta Wildlife will work with farmers to remove nutrients and sediment from agricultural runoff in the Mississippi River Basin.

The National Audubon Society will work with residents to find ways of improving wildlife habitat and the quality of water entering the Mississippi River.

Jerry Steiner, executive vice president at Monsanto, said, "We're proud to work on this bold conservation initiative which we believe offers a sustainable vision for agricultural landscapes wherein farmers can support our world's growing needs for food, fiber and fuel in ways that not only preserve water quality, but also support diverse and abundant wildlife populations."

"The Mississippi River is an ecological treasure and an economic powerhouse," said Michael Reuter, who oversees The Nature Conservancy's Great Rivers Partnership, which was created to help advance conservation of the world's major river systems, including the Mississippi.

The Nature Conservancy will conduct a three-year conservation pilot project in four watersheds in the Upper Mississippi River basin that include the Root River in southeastern Minnesota, the Pecatonica River in southern Wisconsin, the Boone River in northern Iowa and the Mackinaw River in central Illinois. The group will communicate its findings to crop producers to guide their farm stewardship decisions.

"This new effort by Monsanto will help show how we can make farming and conservation in the Mississippi River Basin more compatible so that nature and people alike benefit from improved water quality and enhanced wildlife habitat," said Reuter.

Crop producers will be directly involved in the projects of all the groups, and findings from all projects will be shared with them on a regular basis.

"Farmers are emerging in key leadership roles through their investments, and by participating in the planning and implementation of practices that perform environmentally. It's our goal to support them and help them make meaningful progress," said Roger Wolf, director of environmental programs at the Iowa Soybean Association.

The Iowa Soybean Association will conduct research on paired, micro-watersheds in the Boone and Raccoon Rivers. The group will coordinate monitoring, measurement and evaluation of on-farm resources and environmental outcomes in those watersheds.

"Our goal is to use science - research and data - to systematically develop and implement a suite of management techniques that help production agriculture measurably improve stewardship while maintaining or increasing profitability," Wolf said.

Data collected from all projects will be reported annually and is expected to generate new approaches that can be implemented more broadly across rural landscapes.

Delta Wildlife will install Best Management Practices, BMPs, on 1,000 sites on working farms in the Yazoo-Mississippi Delta region of the Lower Mississippi Valley to reduce off-site movement of nutrients and sediments while improving fish and wildlife habitat and water conservation and documenting the results.

Bobby Carson, who chairs the Delta Wildlife Board of Directors, said, "While significant environmental benefits will certainly accrue from this project, it will also nurture a more sustainable and profitable future for agriculture."

Audubon will raise awareness of how people can be good stewards of nature in their own backyards. The project will focus on promoting specific individual actions to enhance water quality and habitat for birds and other wildlife, and Audubon will communicate these best practices throughout the Mississippi River watershed.

"Audubon is pleased to be part of this effort to foster a sustainable Mississippi River watershed for people and wildlife," said Roger Still, vice president of Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative. "We are committed to engaging individuals to take action in their own lives to help address the water quality and habitat issues in the watershed."

Audubon's Mississippi River Initiative, spanning the river's entire watershed, is focused on protecting and enhancing declining birds and their habitats; reducing excess nutrients to improve water quality; and restoring natural hydrology to sustain important river functions and reduce the loss of coastal wetlands in Louisiana.

In addition to improving the health of the Mississippi River, the projects announced today are expected to generate best practices that can be integrated into management plans designed to conserve major river systems around the world.

Monsanto's proprietary herbicide-tolerant crops and biotech seeds are likely to play a role in the practices that are utilized as part of these projects.

Monsanto is the world's largest producer of glyphosate herbicides through its popular brand, Roundup. Crops that are genetically engineered to be tolerant of Roundup have allowed farmers to adopt no-till practices. Monsanto's genetically engineered Bollgard Cotton has reduced pesticide applications to cotton fields.

Monsanto says its genetically engineered crops already support "the conversion of farmland to no-till practices which greatly reduce erosion and the emission of greenhouse gas into our environment."

"Biotech seeds are one of the more important tools farmers use today to produce more crops, while reducing demand on vital land, energy and water resources," the company says.

Monsanto's development and marketing of genetically engineered seed and bovine growth hormone, as well as its litigation and political lobbying practices, have made the company controversial around the world and a primary target of environmental activists.

Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a "potentially responsible party" for 56 contaminated Superfund sites in the United States.

Now, Monsanto says the company is working to develop nitrogen-use efficiency technologies and crop products that yield more on each acre of land.

Earlier this year, the company announced its commitment to develop, by 2030, seeds that can double crop yields and reduce by one-third the amount of key resources, such as nitrogen and water, required to grow crops.

Monsanto and its conservation partners, along with grower associations including the American Soybean Association and the National Corn Growers Association also announced today that they will be forming a Mississippi River Farm Nutrient Working Group. Additional information on this group will be announced next spring.

{Photo: The muddy Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri (Photo by Matthew Potochick)}

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2008. All rights reserved.

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