Company expects to spend approximately $1.5 billion on R&D in 2017.
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — Fifteen years ago, Monsanto Co. was spending about $550 million a year on research and development. In 2017, the company expects to spend approximately $1.5 billion, growth that stands as a testament to the St. Louis, Missouri-based company’s advances in R&D.

Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto.

“We look forward to the combined levels of R&D that we anticipate investing in innovation for growers through the combination with Bayer,” Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto, said during a Jan. 5 conference call with analysts. “Growers seek this innovation opportunity because they recognize that resources are finite. Demand is real and productivity improvement is a key to their success. The USDA demand figures have indicated that over the past four seasons, world demand for corn grew by over 4 billion bushels while soy demand in the same timeframe grew by over 2 billion bushels.”

Grant said the innovation that Monsanto expects to deliver with its leading technology platforms will be necessary to increase productivity to meet projected demand. The combination with Bayer is expected to amplify the rate of innovation, he added.

“It all starts with our industry-leading seed and trait technologies, which reach approximately 400 million acres to date as a result of our broad licensing approach, which Bayer has indicated that they will continue,” he explained. “This footprint serves as the foundation for future germplasm upgrades, new trait technologies, seed treatments through our BioAg Alliance with Novozymes and finally our unique and rapidly expanding Climate FieldView platform.

“To reinforce our innovation platform leadership, we continue to expand our capabilities in genome editing, including a new agreement with the Broad Institute. Our desire to expand this strong innovation core also stems from the myriad of game-changing opportunities that we see on the horizon. We are very clearly entering a new era in agriculture. Hundreds of new entrants invested more than $4.5 billion of venture capital in agriculture in 2015, which is more than 10 times the investment from just five short years ago. More players than ever are seeking to provide new technologies to growers to enhance productivity, both profitably and sustainably.

“This is for good reason. Demand requires it and we are pleased to see the investment to spur this needed innovation. Our shared vision with Bayer is to harness this wave of innovation and more optimally integrate it into a format that is usable and insightful to growers primarily through our Climate FieldView platform. By pairing Bayer’s exceptional crop protection portfolio with our seeds and traits and Climate FieldView platforms, we expect farmers to benefit from accelerated innovation, expanded geographic and crop offerings and optimized integrated solutions from science-based recommendations.”

Shareowners of Monsanto Co. on Dec. 13 approved the company’s merger with Bayer AG, achieving another key milestone in the proposed $66 billion transaction. The transaction still remains subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of required regulatory approvals.

Monsanto Co. returned to profitability in the first quarter of fiscal 2017, posting net income of $29 million in the first quarter ended Nov. 30, 2016, equal to 7¢ per share on the common stock, which compared with a loss of $253 million in the same period a year ago. Net sales totaled $2.650 billion, up from $2.219 billion a year ago.