Monsanto Announces Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action on Honey Bee Health

Investment Launches Coalition to Research the Challenges Facing Honey Bees

Thursday October 10, 2013

Dateline:

ST. LOUIS
"This is an excellent model, and we look forward to working collaboratively to expand this important work."

ST. LOUIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Monsanto recently announced its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action on honey bee health at the 2013 CGI Annual Meeting. As part of this announcement, the company committed its support to a coalition convened by The Keystone Center.

The Keystone Center is convening a diverse, multi-stakeholder collaboration focused on improving honey bee health. Keystone is currently conducting an assessment phase to help determine who will be involved as well as the scope, mission and goals of the Coalition. It is anticipated that participation will come from sectors including crop production, beekeeping, agribusiness, university, NGO and government. Initial funding for the effort has been provided by Monsanto as part of its CGI Commitment to Action on honey bee health.

“As an independent convener, Keystone’s mission in this initial scoping phase is to ensure we are building a well-rounded group of perspectives,” said Sarah Stokes Alexander, The Keystone Center’s Vice President of Programs. “We’ll be working with diverse stakeholders involved to identify areas of collaboration for honey bee health.”

Monsanto has initially committed to provide support in four priority areas of focus: 1) improving honey bee nutrition; 2) providing research investment in novel technology for varroa and virus control; 3) understanding science-based approaches to studying pesticide impacts on honey bees and increasing awareness of pesticide best management practices among growers and beekeepers; and 4) enabling economic empowerment of beekeepers.

“One-third of our diet is made up of vegetables, fruits and nuts that depend on pollinators like honey bees,” said Jerry Hayes, Monsanto’s Commercial Bee Health Lead. “Honey bees play an essential role in ensuring crop yields—a critical need for global food security. We’re proud to join this coalition and support efforts to improve and sustain honey bee health.”

A significant decline in the honey bee population is posing a threat to agricultural sustainability and food security, as well as to ecosystem health and biodiversity. In the United States, beekeepers have seen an average winter loss of more than 30 percent of honey bee colonies every year since 2006 as a result of CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder), a phenomenon in which bees disappear abruptly from an otherwise healthy colony. The low survival rate of honey bee colonies is leading to a significant decline in the overall honey bee population. Historically, approximately 6 million colonies existed in the United States; today approximately 2.5 million colonies exist.

“If modern agriculture is to remain sustainable, I believe all segments of the agriculture industry need to be able to sit down and have honest and open-minded conversations,” said Randy Verhoek, President of the American Honey Producers Association. “The American Honey Producers is a solution-oriented association that is committed to make decisions based on the evidence of good science.”

Monsanto has been involved with bee research since 2011 when it acquired Beeologics, an organization focused on researching and testing biological products, which provide targeted control of pests and diseases in order to provide safe, effective ways to protect the honey bee. Monsanto also has collaborated with Project Apis m. (PAm) to assist in forage projects in order to provide more nutritious food for bees, and is doing extensive research on the varroa mite, which may be one factor in the decline of honey bee health.

“The Monsanto funding has allowed us to target honey bee forage plantings before and after almond pollination, times when there is normally a dearth of pollen sources. It’s a win-win for all; natural pollen for bees, and for the farmer—reducing soil erosion, fixing nitrogen and adding organic matter to soils,” said Christi Heintz, Executive Director, Project Apis m., Almond Board Bee Task Force Liaison. “This is an excellent model, and we look forward to working collaboratively to expand this important work.”

In June 2013, a first-of-its-kind Honey Bee Health Summit concluded at Monsanto Company’s Chesterfield Village Research Center. The three-day event hosted by PAm and Monsanto’s Honey Bee Advisory Council (HBAC) included nearly 100 members of the bee community, representing academics, beekeepers, industry associations and government sectors. Summit attendees heard from some of the nation’s top apiculture researchers on the challenges facing honey bees, an important ecosystem service provider and natural pollinator.

From beekeeping industry experts, Summit attendees and through the counsel of the HBAC, Monsanto has learned a great deal about the complex challenges facing beekeepers. To learn about the challenges facing honey bees and Monsanto’s commitment to improving honey bee health, please visit Monsanto’s honey bee health website.

About the Clinton Global Initiative

Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, CGI members have made more than 2,500 commitments, which are already improving the lives of more than 430 million people in over 180 countries. When fully funded and implemented, these commitments will be valued at $87.9 billion.

About The Keystone Center

The Keystone Center is an independent nonprofit organization that engages people and their ideas, informed by good data and technology, to understand and address complex energy, environmental, and public health challenges. Keystone helps resolve difficult issues, both current and emerging, by fostering an environment of trust and respect among leaders who wish to reach action-oriented, sustainable solutions that elevate individual interests in service of the greater good.

Founded in 1975, The Keystone Center began as a forum for decision-makers to escape the confines of their typical working environments and talk to each other face-to-face about tough public policy issues. Over the past four decades, we have carefully honed our approaches to dialogue, collaboration, and consensus building, helping stakeholders successfully bridge ideological and political divisions. Together, we strive for a future in which people share in the ownership of society’s challenges and work together to find solutions.

About Monsanto Company

Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality. Monsanto remains focused on enabling both small-holder and large-scale farmers to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world's natural resources such as water and energy. To learn more about our business and our commitments, please visit: www.monsanto.com. Follow our business on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/MonsantoCo, on the company blog, Beyond the Rows at www.monsantoblog.com, or subscribe to our News Release RSS Feed.

Contact:

Monsanto Company
Billy Brennan, 314-694-6397
william.brennan@monsanto.com