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Brief: Former Monsanto CTO Robb Fraley joins Trace Genomics board

April 15, 2021

  • Dr Robb Fraley has joined the board of directors at Trace Genomics, the soil health diagnostics startup. [Disclosure: Trace Genomics in an AgFunder portfolio company. AgFunder is the parent of AFN.]
  • Fraley was the chief technology officer of Monsanto and recipient of numerous prestigious awards including the World Food Prize and the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton.
  • Fraley will provide guidance to Trace Genomics as it advances its ground-breaking science and products in the field of soil DNA testing. He joins other industry leaders on the board including Bill Buckner, former president/CEO of Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation/Noble Research Institute, as well as regional head, North American Operations Bayer CropScience.

Why it matters

During his 40-year tenure at Monsanto, Fraley helped develop the first genetically modified seed and has often been recognized as the father of agriculture biotechnology. He oversaw a team of researchers focused on plant breeding and biotechnology, ag biologicals, ag microbials, precision agriculture and crop protection innovations before retiring in 2018.

That’s a clear match with Trace Genomics, which uses soil science, genomics, and machine learning to measure the bacteria and fungi in soil that cause disease and cycle nutrients. Those measurements are combined with soil chemical characteristics to provide farmers and agronomists with a window into the health and productivity of their soil, enabling them to make data-based management decisions.

“Understanding soil biology, the living microorganisms beneath our feet, is paramount to producing crops sustainably, and Trace Genomics technology is unmatched in this field,” said Fraley of the announcement. “The world is running out of new farmland, yet farmers need to produce more to feed a growing population. It’s imperative that we give them the tools they need to improve soil quality, reduce the amount of fertilizer and other inputs, and produce abundant, healthy crops. Trace Genomics is at the forefront of addressing these challenges.”

We interviewed Fraley back in 2016. You can read that article here.

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