Good-Bye Monsanto Spokespeople

Good-Bye Monsanto Spokespeople

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column looking at the end of the Monsanto Co. as it undergoes the long expected merger with Bayer. But besides saying good-bye to a corporation, we should also say “so long and good luck” to several key Monsanto executives who have decided to call it a career.

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At least eight key executives have decided not to join Bayer once that company has completed its purchase of Monsanto. This includes Pierre Courduroux, Janet Holloway, Steven Mizell, Kerry Preete, Nicole Ringenberg, David Snively, Dr. Robert Fraley, and Hugh Grant. Of these, let me say a few words about the latter two.

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For many years now, Fraley has been one of my go-to guys at Monsanto, to discuss all things agriculture and what’s been going on at the company. He never failed to impress me with his insights into key marketplace trends and future expectations. In fact, the last time I spoke with him earlier this year, he was busy talking up all the pipeline developments Monsanto had on tap for the next few years. In particularly, he was very excited about the possibilities offered by gene-editing.

“Genome-editing offers new benefits for agriculture,” he said. “It could unlock many opportunities in plant breeding, including reducing development costs, opening new markets, and improving disease and stress tolerances in plant growth and development.”

As for Grant, I never got tired of his Apple/Earth speeches. For those unfamiliar with these, he would use an apple to represent the Earth, gradually peeling away the skin to show what portion of the planet couldn’t be used for agriculture. When done, he was left with a small 1- to 2-inch piece of peel. “That’s all the land we have on the planet that can be used to grow crops,” said Grant.

“It has been my sincere privilege to serve as Monsanto’s CEO during this period of extraordinary growth and transformation within our business,” said Grant when announcing his exit from the company. “I’m proud of what we’ve delivered and look forward to what the future holds for this organization.”

I echo these views. But I will miss the inputs and insights from Fraley, Grant, and all the rest of the key Monsanto spokespeople who helped us get to this point . . .