By M. Ott
Nearly a quarter century after it was built, Monsanto’s Chesterfield Village Research Center will once again be home to the biggest research and development team in the field of agriculture. In a ceremony marking this momentous event, Hugh Grant, Monsanto chairman and CEO, and Robb Fraley, Monsanto chief technology officer, dedicated the site to the company’s employees on June 14.
With Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Charlie Dooley, St. Louis County executive, other government officials, farmers, partners, scientists, and numerous Monsanto employees – past and present – in the audience, Fraley opened the ceremony.
“It’s not only a great day for science, but ultimately it’s a great day for our farmers,” he said. “What we do here and at other sites around the world is help make agriculture more productive and more profitable for farmers, as well as more efficient and sustainable for our planet.”
The Future of Chesterfield Village Research Center
In support of the farmers and growers responsible for producing food, feed, fuel and fiber for the world, the Chesterfield Village Research Center will serve as Monsanto’s major hub for research and development. By the end of the year, the site is expected to house approximately 1,200 of the world’s leading scientists and researchers.
These 1,200 employees will work alongside researchers involved in some of Monsanto’s partnerships with public and private Missouri universities, including the University of Missouri, Saint Louis University, Lincoln University and Washington University.
The Chesterfield site currently has 26 greenhouses, 108 climate-controlled growth chambers and 250 laboratories. Over the next few years, Monsanto plans to add up to 15 greenhouses and 50 growth chambers.
Creating the Crops of the Future
“Cutting-edge scientific research is fast becoming a global enterprise, carried out by interdisciplinary teams of scientists with an emphasis on collaboration, transparency and openness,” Nixon said. “If that is the wave of the future, Monsanto is already riding its crest because collaboration is the lifeblood of this exciting expansion here in Chesterfield Village."
The Chesterfield Village Research Center site is the foundation for Monsanto’s business, and through innovating new and improved technologies, the company will be positioned to further deliver benefits and enhance farmers’ production. The site will continue to support Monsanto’s robust pipeline, which is focused on increasing agricultural productivity, such as drought-tolerant corn and higher-yielding soybeans. This pipeline is what will enable reaching the company’s goal of doubling yields in core crops by 2030.
“At the end of the day, sustainable agriculture and working with farmers so they can do more with less is what our company is all about,” Grant said. “We want farmers around the world – including those farming right here in Missouri – to have access to all the tools available to help them meet the many challenges they face. Challenges like growing enough food and reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment. Challenges like building a strong business and providing a better future for their families."
A Site with a Past – and Now a Future
Grant said Monsanto is proud to call Chesterfield Village Research Center home again. The site was originally built by the former Monsanto Company for approximately $150 million and opened in 1984. In 2000, the former Monsanto merged with Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc. and changed its name to Pharmacia Corporation. The current Monsanto Company was incorporated in 2000 and spun off from Pharmacia in 2002, becoming a completely independent company focused solely on agriculture. The new Monsanto leased space at the Chesterfield site from Pharmacia, and the lease continued after Pfizer acquired Pharmacia in 2003.
“Reacquiring this facility is a significant investment for us – an investment in our business, an investment in our farmer customers, and we hope, an investment for the greater St. Louis region and the state of Missouri,” he said.