Robert Horsch, a pioneer in genetic engineering, worked for Monsanto Corp. for a quarter of century where he helped farmers across the globe improve crop yields and develop sustainable crops. Horsch headed efforts to develop partnerships with small farmers in developing countries.
Horsch recalled that he “got hooked on plants’’ during graduate studies at the University of California at Riverside, where he received a doctorate in genetics in 1979. He continued that research when he joined Monsanto. He initially studied petunias at Monsanto, and later applied that science to other plants and seeds.
Horsch left Monsanto in 2006 to join the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he leads the team that manages grants to finance programs to improve farming productivity and crop quality and nutrition. One of his focus areas is sub-Saharan Africa.
“My passion is working with the developing world,’’ Horsch said upon leaving Monsanto.
In 2014 Horsch was appointed to the 15-member board of directors for the newly-created Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, authorized by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. The foundation seeks to combine public and private resources to further agricultural research and plant development.
By Robert Warren