A college buddy of my son at UMR, wound up at Monsanto. He recently sent Jack a link to a story about what he was doing at work.
Visitors to the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Ill,, last month who toured Monsanto's exhibit received an inkling of why Monsanto has a healthy number of mechanical engineers on staff. The company displayed state-of-the art machines used to screen for genes without damaging the seed.
Farm Progress editors touring Monsanto's labs last week got a firsthand look at those machines in action. One of them, a seed chipper, removes a minute piece, more or less dust, from a soybean without damaging the viability of the seed. Breeders could still plant the seed and grow it normally.
As a matter of fact, that's exactly what happens. The tiny pieces of soybean from hundreds of thousands of soybeans run through the machine are 'fingerprinted' for DNA in another process. If the breeder is looking for soybeans with a certain gene, he can discover which ones have it, and note what other traits that bean possesses. The bottom line is he can select promising single seeds to grow without having to grow them all out. Once he determines what he wants, he simply tells the employees in the lab, and they retrieve the exact seed that the sample came from. Then he can grow it out and move on with the breeding process from there.
The seed chipper machine was designed and invented 'in-house,' Monsanto officials say. It's just one of several machines invented there to help in their search for genes that could impart benefit to agronomic crops, particularly corn, soybeans, cotton and canola- the target crops for Monsanto's research. [More]
Way to go, Andy!
I have frequently remarked that monstrous industrial organizations are routinely despised by farmers until our sons/daughters need jobs after college.
We also conveniently forget huge businesses are made up of people just like us - only they know how to work in a group.