Robert T. Fraley
Robert T. Fraley
Executive Vice President and
Chief Technology Officer
Monsanto Company

Robert T. Fraley leads Monsanto's integrated seed, traits and chemistry research and development activities with facilities around the world. He has been involved in agricultural biotechnology since the early 1980s and has been with Monsanto for more than 28 years, holding several positions throughout his tenure.

Fraley received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and the 2008 National Academy of Sciences Award for the Industrial Application of Science for his work on improving crops through biotechnology. He is technical adviser to government and public agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, Office of Technology Assessment, Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, U.S. Agency for International Development, National Academy of Sciences and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications.

He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a past member of the Agriculture Biotechnology Research Advisory Committee and the National Institutes of Health Molecular Cytology Study Section. Fraley holds a doctorate in microbiology and biochemistry and a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois. He received a fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. He has written more than 100 publications and patent applications related to technical advances in agricultural biotechnology. He is a member of several scientific journal editorial boards.



Abstract:
A System Approach to Water Productivity
Agriculture is at the center of unprecedented global demand for food and water security, energy needs, as well as human health and nutrition demands while challenged with climate change. The continued growth and development of prosperous, urbanized societies depend upon advancements in sustainable agricultural technology. Monsanto has made the commitment, working with others in the agricultural industry, to double crop yields by 2030 compared to a base year of 2000 and do so while conserving natural resources, all while helping improve lives.

As humanity meets the challenge of feeding itself while the population is growing, efficient use of water will be a significant limiting factor. More people will require more protein, which requires more grain, but the amount of arable land per capita will continue to shrink. The availability of water to support these demands will likely be an ongoing production challenge. However, it is believed that widespread adoption of improved agronomic practices, advances in breeding, as well as improvements and adoption of biotechnology, will help farmers squeeze more from every ounce of water to meet the demands of a hungry, growing world.

As part of Monsanto’s commitment to science education, we opened our first water utilization learning center in Gothenburg, Neb., which is designed for studying cropping systems composed of genetics, agronomic practices and biotech traits, including water-use efficiency technologies such as drought-tolerant cropping systems.

Monsanto’s research and development pipeline in corn, soybeans and cotton serves as an excellent illustrative example of what is possible. Research in drought tolerance and improved water management could offer farmers a way to reduce agriculture's impact on the environment by helping stabilize yield in drought-stress conditions. The first-generation drought-tolerance trait is designed to enhance yield stability when water is limited.

The Water Efficiency Maize for Africa (WEMA) is our partnership on drought tolerant corn. Monsanto donated maize varieties, molecular markers and drought tolerance transgenes and the expertise to the public-private partnership WEMA.