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Earth Science

Monsanto Buys Climate Corp. Envisions Big Data Farming 75

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
cagraham writes "Agriculture giant Monsanto has purchased the weather analytics firm Climate Corporation for over $930 Millionl. Climate Corp, a firm founded by ex-Google data scientists and software engineers, specializes in hyper-local weather prediction which they use to recommend risk-management and crop-insurance policies for farmers. Monsanto likely wants to use this technology to boost their big data farming systems, and help better market their genetically engineered crop seeds. This news comes the same day that Monsanto posted increased Q4 losses of $0.47 per share."
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Monsanto Buys Climate Corp. Envisions Big Data Farming

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  • ooook..?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:32PM (#45021087) Homepage Journal

    And? Why do we have a routine business sales article instead of an article on hyper-local weather forecasting?

    and it's not prediction, it's forecasting.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Good point. And while we're at it, why are quarterly results relevant? Don't they have those *every* quarter? OR, are the two tied together by some sort of mysterious voodoo, hidden by a corporate conspiracy?...
    • by khallow (566160)

      and it's not prediction, it's forecasting.

      It'd be helpful if you could tell us the difference. I gather forecasting makes predictions/estimates of future numerical parameters over a fixed span of time such as amount of rainfall for a given area over the next day. Predictions can be more general, say, the odds of an event which triggers an insurance claim.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:02PM (#45021313)

        It'd be helpful if you could tell us the difference.

        There isn't one; the definition of forecasting is "to predict or estimate (a future event or trend)." I think he views prediction as more "crystal ball" and forecasting more "computer screen" ... but he tripped over his lack of finesse with the language and took a snarky to the knee.

        • Re:ooook..?? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:09PM (#45021357)

          The problem is Predicting means using a computer and science where as forecasting especially weather is reaching into your ass and pulling out something. Seriously the closest weather forecasting comes at 5 days out is a rough Idea of temperature. maybe clouds if a big system is moving a big enough area.

          At 48 hours out I expect weather forecasts to be about 50% correct but i still make plans the same

          At 24 hours out it isn't to far off but they have trouble with more localised(county level) events.

          at 1 hour out they are usually pretty spot on but then you can always look out the window yourself.

          • At 48 hours out I expect weather forecasts to be about 50% correct but i still make plans the same

            It depends where you live. Here in San Jose, the weather reports for the last four months have been 100% accurate. Every day they predicted "warm and sunny", and they were right. We don't look at the weather report to decide if we need an umbrella. We look at the calendar.

            • We don't look at the weather report to decide if we need an umbrella. We look at the calendar.

              Same story here in Portland, Oregon... except the umbrella is sort of mandatory from October to April.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              In the Netherlands the weather is so 'random' that people can't trust the weather reports at all. We all have a rain radar application on our mobile phones and predict for ourselves when it is going to rain where we are, or how long it is going to rain.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I think this whole thing can be summed up thus:

          1. Purchase the govt ? Done.
          2. Purchase the competition? Work in Progress.
          3. Purchase the analyst? DONE!
          4. Profit !

    • Re:ooook..?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:07PM (#45021337)

      > Why do we have a routine business sales article

      Because somebody submitted it, and Slashdot caters to the Monsanto Derangement Syndrome crowd.

    • by s.petry (762400)

      And? Why do we have a routine business sales article instead of an article on hyper-local weather forecasting?

      and it's not prediction, it's forecasting.

      Because Monsanto brings out lots of emotional debate? Just a hunch of course.

      Another reason could be the relation to the obvious conflict of interest in Monsanto owning such a tech company.

      • by slick7 (1703596)
        Monsanto is a conflict of interest, against man and nature. They want the same capabilities as the NSA but without the constraints.
        • by s.petry (762400)
          Thanks for making my point!! :D
        • by khallow (566160)

          Monsanto is a conflict of interest, against man and nature

          I know you're just trying to be witty here, but there's no obligation on the part of Monsanto to support "man and nature", hence there is no conflict of interest. I know some anti-corporatist types claim that corporations should serve some sort of public benefit or be banished.

          I don't agree, partly because I don't think the above sort of people could recognize a benefit to society and partly because I think the necessities of free societies preclude that sort of onerous and nebulous burden.

          • Re:ooook..?? (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Aryden (1872756) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @03:33AM (#45023007)
            ah but you see, many of us believe that corporations should not be blatantly malicious. Look at Monsanto's history of abuses and you will easily see why many of us have a deep abiding distaste for them. And yes, corporations should actually server some public benefit, but not banished if they don't, just fined/taxed/penalized not given the keys to the whorehouse.
            • by khallow (566160)

              ah but you see, many of us believe that corporations should not be blatantly malicious.

              People shouldn't be either. I guess we ought to make a law for that.

              • by slick7 (1703596)

                ah but you see

                Ah but you don't see, if an individual, living person causes harm to another, that said person faces punitive action. Such actions as law suits, indictments, prison and in the most extreme, death. How do you punish a corporation? Dissolution? No. Financial ruin? Only to the point of corporate solvency, in other words, no. Who goes to jail? The CEO? Possibly a witless stooge. The board of directors? Maybe, if it includes each and everyone of them, including silent partners and every red cent that can be trac

                • by khallow (566160)

                  Ah but you don't see, if an individual, living person causes harm to another, that said person faces punitive action. Such actions as law suits, indictments, prison and in the most extreme, death. How do you punish a corporation?

                  The corporation doesn't act. It doesn't do anything. The people that comprise that corporation are the ones who act and who have the potential to commit harm.

                  • by Aryden (1872756)
                    Yes, and you see how well that is working out for our current system....
                    • by khallow (566160)
                      It won't work any different. Either you bring the people who cause the crimes to justice or you don't.
                    • by Aryden (1872756)
                      which is what we are arguing for....
                    • by khallow (566160)
                      The original question was "How do you punish a corporation?"

                      The US really does have laws where inanimate bits of property can be punished for crimes. Civil asset forfeiture targets the property not the person and it has a much lower burden of proof. So I suppose we could use that bit of law for the purpose at hand.

                      The only problem is that these laws happen to be horribly abusive, unconstitutional, and generates a massive conflict of interest (since for the war on drugs and some other stuff, the law en
                  • by slick7 (1703596)

                    The corporation doesn't act. It doesn't do anything. The people that comprise that corporation are the ones who act and who have the potential to commit harm.

                    Of course it acts. When it sets government policy, like the Monsanto protection act, yes it was the politicians who voted it into law, however these same politicians do not have the capacity to write extensive pro corporate policy, they just introduce it. The politicians that vote for it are usually take bribes.. er ..uh donations from the very same corporation which has very deep pockets. Yes the corporation acts. It was corporations that got the Glass-Steagal act abolished. It was the actions of the banki

          • Re:ooook..?? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by cyber-vandal (148830) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @05:56AM (#45023361) Homepage

            Given that society has granted them the enormous privilege of limited liability it's not unreasonable to expect them to serve the public good, or at the very least not make the world a worse place to live.

            • by khallow (566160)
              Recall, if you can, that corporations' primary role is the efficient distribution of capital. The secondary roles are a neat and demonstrated way to organize a bunch of people and second, a set of means for legally compartmentalizing economic activity. It's not to make the world a less worse place to live. That just happens to be a happy outcome of these benefits.

              Now, as I understand it, most systems of law do not require normal people to serve the public good. So why should the law require corporations,
              • Businesses' primary role is the efficient distribution of capital. Limited liability is not required for that. Limited liability is where the state protects the business owners from any ruinous consequences of their actions. What you're saying is that they should get that huge privilege but should be allowed to behave in any way they see fit irrespective of any detrimental effects on society.

                • by khallow (566160)

                  Businesses' primary role is the efficient distribution of capital. Limited liability is not required for that.

                  No, that's the role of the limited liability corporation. Businesses's primary role is to provide goods and services of value. Without corporations you have much more inefficient distribution of capital (you could have some equivalent game - it'd still be limited liability investing). But obviously, you can still have businesses.

                  The thing people don't get is that most people who invest in a business don't run the business and they often don't understand it. They are just providing capital.

            • by kwbauer (1677400)

              The real problem is that "public benefit" and "public good" are extremely subjective terms. I believe Monsanto has done a lot of good and has greatly benefited society by providing jobs, insulation for homes and such and a great many seeds to farmers that help me to eat.

              Since corporations make profits by adding value to something and selling that something to someone, they generally only stay around if they have enough someones believing they have added enough value to be worth the price.

      • by khallow (566160)

        Another reason could be the relation to the obvious conflict of interest in Monsanto owning such a tech company.

        What would be the conflict of interest? I really don't get it here. It sounds like rather straightforward integration/bundling of services.

    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      And? Why do we have a routine business sales article instead of an article on hyper-local weather forecasting?

      and it's not prediction, it's forecasting.

      The accuracy of current weather forecasting technology is still technically considered to be in the "Wild-Assed Guess" category.

  • by Valentinial (2980593) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:33PM (#45021101) Homepage
    I'm fairly certain Monsanto is one of the big corporations that rule the US. Where is that chart I saw once about the major companies that own all the other companies. This has to be on there somewhere.
    • by Tablizer (95088) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @07:39PM (#45021155) Journal

      In 50 years it will be Borgsanto

    • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:01PM (#45021305)

      I doubt it. Monsanto is about 200 in the Fortune 500 list.

      Good sized, but not likely to be ruling the US.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        But how many of the 200+ above Monsanto have a real impact on food production worldwide? How many more or less decide the steady march towards agricultural monoculture that has been predicted by many to be the first step in a crop collapse? They may not have a net worth of an Apple or Google, but they sure as HELL have a negative impact on the entire world's population.

        • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @09:20PM (#45021733)

          Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world, however they only have about a 20% market share.

          The idea that they decide 'the steady march towards monoculture' or have a huge impact on the entire world population is preposterous tin-foil mad hattery.

        • by idunham (2852899) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @01:24AM (#45022669)

          But how many of the 200+ above Monsanto have a real impact on food production worldwide? How many more or less decide the steady march towards agricultural monoculture that has been predicted by many to be the first step in a crop collapse?

          Let's see who's involved in ag-related industries and above Monsanto:
          Food processors:
          Archer-Daniels-Midland, ConAgra, Tyson Foods, Smithfield, and a few more. I'm excluding bottling companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
          Manufacurers producing ag equipment among other products:
          Ford, Caterpillar, Deere & Co.
          Chemical/drug companies with major ag lines and a larger total size:
          Dow (ag chemicals, seeds), Merck (veterinary), DuPont (ag chemicals, seeds)

          Monsanto is in the same vicinity as Waste Management and DISH Network. I named ten companies that are larger.

      • Ya but all they have to do is ALL YOUR CORN ARE BELONG TO US and then there is no Taco Bell. No Taco Bell means junkies and hipsters will have no-where left to eat, forcing them into the job market so they can afford meals that cost for that 99 cents. The influx of young workers will drive down demand for older more experienced workers causing a deluge of early retirement, social security and medicare claims. That coupled with the recent lack of agreement on government funding will send the country into a d

        • That's unlikely since Monsanto's corn seed market share has never been more than 40%.

        • by idunham (2852899)

          That's unlikely. So much so that I suspect sarcasm.

          Corn is grown by individual farmers, who purchase seed from several large seed companies and smaller companies that sometimes license traits.
          So, big picture:
          1) Picture the difficulty in manipulationg over a thousand grain elevators, or in suing half a million farmers at the same time...
          I doubt that many companies could pull that off.
          2) Patent exhaustion incontestably applies to the first crop when a company sells its own seed.
          3) Monsanto's far from a monopo

          • by jbengt (874751)

            2) Patent exhaustion incontestably applies to the first crop when a company sells its own seed.

            I believe that has been contested in court already, successfully.

            • by idunham (2852899)

              If you're speaking of Bowman v. Monsanto, that is incorrect.
              Bowman was about a second crop.
              In case of a legitimate sale, the purchaser has the right to use the product sold for the purpose indicated: growing a crop for market sale. Any licenses from the seller which may be necessary to use it for the purpose indicated must be included with the sale.
              Bowman had the right to plant the seeds he bought. That was not what he got sued over.

              Bowman also had a second generation; what he planted the second time were

        • by kwbauer (1677400)

          How does having nowhere to eat force a person into the job market?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...that Monsanto is found to be skewing the forecasts for the benefit of their other products (only based on the fact that their track record shows that they really do have everyone's best interests at heart).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:14PM (#45021391)

    Knowing Monsanto, they will predict the weather for an area, but if that predicted weather then accidentally moves onto your property, Monsanto will sue you for using the weather they predicted.

  • .. wasn't a one banana problem for Monsanto.

  • by Hartree (191324) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @08:21PM (#45021433)

    Two great sources of them. Now in one easy package!

    "Monsanto must be buying Climate Corp. to help the global warming denialists to let them keep destroying the earth!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Oh look, another "let's call everyone who disagrees a conspiracy theorists" post.

      Considering how theories barely keep up with reality lately, it takes a lot of ignorance - or vested interests - to keep touting that line.

      • "it takes a lot of ignorance - or vested interests - to keep touting that line."

        *tip-of-the hat*

        I wish I could give you mod points for that one. Kudos.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All genetically modified grain reverts back to a more natural state.

    seriously
    grow up

  • This would seem to dovetail with the development of precision agriculture [wikipedia.org].

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @10:06PM (#45021967) Homepage Journal

    Good to see all these big corporations known for their ethics and concern for the public getting involved in Big Data.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  • That's all I have to say. I wish I could say more...oh do I wish I could say more.
  • Unfortunately the name of this company perpetuates the confusion between "climate" and "weather" so beloved by denialists and hack comedians. ("Hey, if there's all this global warming, how come on the way over here I could feel my nipples but not my fingers? I mean, it's cold out! How cold is it? So cold that lawyers are putting their hands in their own pockets!" etc.)

  • Agriculture giant Monsanto has purchased the weather analytics firm Climate Corporation for over $930 Millionl.

    930 Million L? What's 930 million loonies in real money? Something like the Norwegian Krone I guess. What's $930Ml in Krone?

  • Big data in farming (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Monsanto is developing its own big data system, called IFS, to provide farmers more customized seed suggestions for their farms. It uses a geographical and soil survey of the farm to suggest many very small decisions in planting that should raise yields: Maybe this type of corn grows better in a part of the soil, or the same one will work better when planted using different seed densities in different locations. The big difficulty comes from implementing said decisions: regular combine is not designed to s

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