Sustain Weekly — Sow -> Water -> Wait -> Yield
“Execution, Execution, Execution” — Andy Grove
Hello and welcome to the 30th issue of the Sustain weekly newsletter. Last week, I wrote mostly on the increasing number of urban farmers and organic produce.
Then during the week, I found out that one of my friends grows a lovely bunch of vegetables on his balcony. Through him, I discovered new things and places that can guide me to build a small garden. Apparently, spinach is a great start. So, I’m going to try that. Here are some beautiful chilies and spinach from his balcony! But before that, I have to introduce a company to you. A company that is heavily associated with industrial farming, but is discussed rarely on social media. We should all know who Monsanto is and what they do. But, hardly few of us do. This is because the industry it operates it is far from what is daily fed on social media. Probably because Buzzfeed doesn’t cover it. Also, you know how they say — if it’s not on Facebook, it’s not news.
But if you’re in Food & Beverages and Agriculture, you will know Monsanto. Or, if you’re even remotely close to politics, you will know them. So this week, I’ll only introduce them. Monsanto is a 150 year chemical giant that makes weed killers and fertilizers. Their biggest product is called Roundup. Basically, a pharma veteran John Queeny started Monsanto Chemical Works in 1901, named after his wife Olga Monsanto.
The company’s first product was chemical saccharin, which was sold to Coca-Cola as artificial sweetener but actually poisonous.But they real action began in 20s, when they introduced Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) — an industrial wonder chemical that is now banned.
A century of chemical works. A decade of cotton in India
In the 1930s — they introduced the first hybrid corns, soaps, plastics, cleaning products etc. 1940s — Uranium used in the first atomic bomb. 1960s — Monsanto + Dow made Agent Orange and sold to Government — sprayed on people during Vietnam War. 90s — Launches Synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), produced from a genetically modified E.Coli. In 2000s — Monsanto split its chemical business and repositioned itself as an Agricultural company, due to the rapid rise and use of its fertilizer Roundup. During these years, it spread globally. Monsanto today is one of the biggest names in Agri. Its Glysophate, the main ingredient in Roundup, is found in a lot of plants and products. For eg: in Wine.
In India, Monsanto introduced the bt cotton in 2002. Since then, it has been one of the biggest agri players here. But over the years, the failure of GMO crop and seed lock-in has resulted in 100,000+ farmer suicides. Monsanto controls 90% of cotton seed supply. Here are three charts that show Monsanto changed cotton farming in India. This month, Monsanto threatened to leave India over the government’s efforts in capping and cutting of bt cotton seed prices. The government in a welcome move, called the bluff and welcomed Monsanto to leave the county. This comes at the heels of the announcement that the government will develop its own genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties early next year to end Monsanto’s dominance. Here is the WSJ article on why Monsanto’s biotech food business hasn’t grown much here.
But, enough about Monsanto.Let’s wait and watch this space on food and agri players. Monsanto faces the heat and lawsuits everywhere. Over seed saving, glysophate, PCBs.
In the meantime, if you are passionate about terrace and urban farming!
reach out and we can learn this together from guys who’re already on the ground, balconies and terraces doing it and doing it well. Maybe even start a small slack group to discuss ways to get started. Maybe sow charts and cycles.
A few sus-tech news I found interesting last week
- City birds are smarter than country birds. Not surprising. Some crows crack nuts at traffic lights and pick them up at red.
- Fish with rainbow skin shows how cells move when skin regrows. Fish are great to learn new science. I wish this illegal overfishing stops. Disappearing ocean ecosystem.
- Curcumin in Turmeric can help overcome drug resistant tuberculosis. Get Haldi Be healthy.
Also, tech side — here is my summary of the Apple vs FBI backdoor saga.
FBI: Want to fight?
Apple: OK, let’s fight.
FBI: Oh yah? Let’s fight.
Apple: Sure OK, bring it on.
Crowd: Great! Fight, Fight, Fight
FBI: Hey, got something else. ttyl. bye.
Apple: OK, launching new iPhones and iPads.
Some other things that can read right now.
- What an ex senior trainer at SeaWorld has to say about Orca breeding in captivity.
- “How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization” by David Hopkins. Friends fans should read this.
- This article on building weatherproof businesses is to be read right now! Do Not Miss!
- I’m not a millennial. I have an issue with this marketing coinage. It just isn’t applicable to India, China etc. Very myopic to brand 2 billion in the same bracket. Kind of like saying that all people born in the same month have same characteristics. Millennial is like one of the zodiac signs of consumer marketing.
The current state of Indian E-commerce
NextBigWhat summed up what was happening in the Sachin Bansal vs Kunal Bahl saga in Indian e-commerce market in 1 GIF. On Alibaba and subsequent devaluation. Probably, Shopclues and Paytm are waiting in the rounds.
Arcluster is pleased to announce that the commercial drones forecasts from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report are in line and reflective of market demand and expectations that we had published in a report in February. More information on our commercial drones market study is here. Here is the FAA report if you’re interested. For the latest news from the company, follow us on Twitter here, LinkedIn here and Like us on Facebook here.