Monsanto (MON), the agri-business giant that is oft-criticized for pushing genetically modified organisms as food, has acquired The Climate Corporation for about $1.1 billion, according to Techcrunch. Climate Corp is a San Francisco-based big data company that monitors the weather in order to provide crop insurance for farmers. It was backed with $109 million in venture capital funding.
The deal is interesting because it suggests that Monsanto — which makes genetically modified seeds and chemical pesticides — might be about to take climate change a bit more seriously. Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told the Wall Street Journal this year that the company only began examining the issue of global warming about four years ago, and at the time the company still thought climate change might be “fiction”:
We took a look at this three or four years ago. We brought our brightest scientists together and asked them, climate change: fact or fiction? And then, what would the effect be in agriculture in general and our business specifically?
The conclusions that came back were, ‘There’s definitely something there. This isn’t an anomaly. There’s enough evidence to suggest that it’s getting warmer.’ For agriculture that’s going to absolutely present challenges, at the very time we need to produce more, it’s an environment that’s heated. In the much longer term, we’re going to have to focus on breeding to accommodate those temperature shifts.
Because Climate Corp. provides crop insurance, it has an incentive to make sure its climate data is right.