Conversation Questions About Organic Farming

By Monsanto

Here are some of the top questions we’ve received about organic farming through The Conversation.

Still have questions of your own? Feel free to ask us.

What is Monsanto’s view of “organic”?

We think there isn’t just one solution when it comes to addressing big global challenges like sustainable food production. Instead, it’s going to take a lot of different tools and approaches. That includes organic farming, and we support organic farming. We provide a range of conventionally produced seeds that have not been improved through biotechnology for fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and many of our customers who purchase those seeds are organic farmers.

If you're interested, Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post about feeding the world with both GMOs and organic.

View Original Question

What is Monsanto’s view of “organic”?

We think there isn’t just one solution when it comes to addressing big global challenges like sustainable food production. Instead, it’s going to take a lot of different tools and approaches. That includes organic farming, and we support organic farming. We provide a range of conventionally produced seeds that have not been improved through biotechnology for fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and many of our customers who purchase those seeds are organic farmers.

If you're interested, Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post about feeding the world with both GMOs and organic.

View Original Question

How do you support organic farming? And what makes you think you are sustainable?

We sell many types of conventionally produced seeds, and, while we do not currently produce organic-certified seed, many organic farmers purchase our seed when organically-produced equivalent varieties are not available. Check out this Huffington Post blog post for more info about how we are working with organic farmers and others to try to contribute to solving the world’s big agriculture challenges.   

In terms of sustainability, we view sustainable agriculture as a cornerstone of who we are as a company. We are focused every day on helping farmers have a smaller impact on the environment while growing food. For example, GMO crops that can use less water than their conventional or organic counterparts can help farmers conserve that natural resource. Find out more about how we are working to grow food more sustainably here

View Original Question

How do you support organic farming? And what makes you think you are sustainable?

We sell many types of conventionally produced seeds, and, while we do not currently produce organic-certified seed, many organic farmers purchase our seed when organically-produced equivalent varieties are not available. Check out this Huffington Post blog post for more info about how we are working with organic farmers and others to try to contribute to solving the world’s big agriculture challenges.   

In terms of sustainability, we view sustainable agriculture as a cornerstone of who we are as a company. We are focused every day on helping farmers have a smaller impact on the environment while growing food. For example, GMO crops that can use less water than their conventional or organic counterparts can help farmers conserve that natural resource. Find out more about how we are working to grow food more sustainably here

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How much of the organic seeds do you produce?

We do not currently produce certified organic seed. Regarding our seed sales to organic crop producers, it's difficult to quantify our market share. Looking at the market generally, according to 2012 U.S. Census data, there are 16,525 organic farms, either certified or exempt, in the U.S., which is roughly 0.7 percent of all farms. And, organic sales account for over 4 percent of total U.S. food sales.

The USDA National Organic Program defines a practice of farming that allows and prohibits certain advanced agricultural tools. Some organic farmers use our products, like our conventionally bred vegetable seeds. As a company, more than half of our vegetable research dollars go into conventional plant breeding where we develop over 2,000 varieties of seeds for fruits and vegetables like peppers, broccoli, carrots and melons. You can read more about our vegetable seed business and our work to help farmers grow food for a balanced plate on our website.

View Original Question

How much of the organic seeds do you produce?

We do not currently produce certified organic seed. Regarding our seed sales to organic crop producers, it's difficult to quantify our market share. Looking at the market generally, according to 2012 U.S. Census data, there are 16,525 organic farms, either certified or exempt, in the U.S., which is roughly 0.7 percent of all farms. And, organic sales account for over 4 percent of total U.S. food sales.

The USDA National Organic Program defines a practice of farming that allows and prohibits certain advanced agricultural tools. Some organic farmers use our products, like our conventionally bred vegetable seeds. As a company, more than half of our vegetable research dollars go into conventional plant breeding where we develop over 2,000 varieties of seeds for fruits and vegetables like peppers, broccoli, carrots and melons. You can read more about our vegetable seed business and our work to help farmers grow food for a balanced plate on our website.

View Original Question

What affect do you have on small farmers? Both organic and not. Do you encourage small business farming?

We are supportive of all types of farming, large and small. In fact, many of our customers are small farmers, and some of our customers are organic farmers, too. It's up to the individual farmer to determine what crops he or she is most interested in growing, but we offer a number of conventionally produced fruit and vegetable seeds, including tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and GMO varieties (as well as conventionally produced varieties) of squash and sweet corn.

View Original Question

What affect do you have on small farmers? Both organic and not. Do you encourage small business farming?

We are supportive of all types of farming, large and small. In fact, many of our customers are small farmers, and some of our customers are organic farmers, too. It's up to the individual farmer to determine what crops he or she is most interested in growing, but we offer a number of conventionally produced fruit and vegetable seeds, including tomatoes, melons and bell peppers, and GMO varieties (as well as conventionally produced varieties) of squash and sweet corn.

View Original Question

Why are there more laws and fines in place (at least in CA) for organic farming standards than for conventional?

Both organic and conventional farm production are regulated; however, organic production may seem like it’s regulated at a slightly higher level. Here are a few reasons why: 

The first is marketing. When the USDA organic program was developed (starting in the early 1990s), detailed production guidelines were made for organic producers to follow in order to ensure accuracy and credibility of a product’s "organic" claim. Note that if farmers make claims under other USDA marketing programs, such as "Angus Beef" or "Free Range", they also need to back up their claims. 

Another is pesticide use. In short, organic farmers are limited as to what pesticides they use in order to protect their crops. While all users of pesticides are obligated by law to use pesticides in accordance with the product’s label, organic farmers need to also be sure they use non-synthetic pesticides approved for use in organic production.

You can take a look at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s organic standards for more information.

View Original Question

Why are there more laws and fines in place (at least in CA) for organic farming standards than for conventional?

Both organic and conventional farm production are regulated; however, organic production may seem like it’s regulated at a slightly higher level. Here are a few reasons why: 

The first is marketing. When the USDA organic program was developed (starting in the early 1990s), detailed production guidelines were made for organic producers to follow in order to ensure accuracy and credibility of a product’s "organic" claim. Note that if farmers make claims under other USDA marketing programs, such as "Angus Beef" or "Free Range", they also need to back up their claims. 

Another is pesticide use. In short, organic farmers are limited as to what pesticides they use in order to protect their crops. While all users of pesticides are obligated by law to use pesticides in accordance with the product’s label, organic farmers need to also be sure they use non-synthetic pesticides approved for use in organic production.

You can take a look at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s organic standards for more information.

View Original Question

Does Monsanto really think GMOs can provide healthy food to everyone? Is there research to support organic food is not sustainable?

We’re not suggesting that the types of seed and other agricultural products and solutions that Monsanto develops are the only answer when it comes to addressing big global challenges like sustainable food production – we understand it’s going to take a lot of tools and approaches. To help in this effort, we focus everyday on helping farmers have a smaller impact on the environment while growing food. For example, GM crops that use less water than their conventional or organic counterparts can help farmers conserve. Check out more about how we’re working to grow food more sustainably.

And while we believe that organic practices have a place in helping feed the world’s growing population, we see it as just one piece of a larger puzzle – one that also includes solutions such as precision farming, agricultural biologicals, and yes, genetic modification. It is not widely known that we sell many types of conventionally produced seeds in the organic marketplace, and we do have organic farmers as customers. If you're interested, Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post about feeding the world with both GMOs and organic

View Original Question

Does Monsanto really think GMOs can provide healthy food to everyone? Is there research to support organic food is not sustainable?

We’re not suggesting that the types of seed and other agricultural products and solutions that Monsanto develops are the only answer when it comes to addressing big global challenges like sustainable food production – we understand it’s going to take a lot of tools and approaches. To help in this effort, we focus everyday on helping farmers have a smaller impact on the environment while growing food. For example, GM crops that use less water than their conventional or organic counterparts can help farmers conserve. Check out more about how we’re working to grow food more sustainably.

And while we believe that organic practices have a place in helping feed the world’s growing population, we see it as just one piece of a larger puzzle – one that also includes solutions such as precision farming, agricultural biologicals, and yes, genetic modification. It is not widely known that we sell many types of conventionally produced seeds in the organic marketplace, and we do have organic farmers as customers. If you're interested, Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto's Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, wrote a piece in The Huffington Post about feeding the world with both GMOs and organic

View Original Question