By Chris Adams

In a panel discussion and Q&A with National Press Foundation fellows, experts in food, tech and farming talked about the partnership process involving Monsanto and outside firms, governments or nonprofits.

Jonathan Jenkinson, a Monsanto employee and its Asia/Africa breeding lead, described his efforts to deploy Monsanto’s scientific knowledge to help boost production of two important crops in Africa: water-efficient corn and the cowpea. Jenkinson works with nonprofits such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as officials in Africa, to help improve production in the crops.

According to Monsanto, corn – or maize – is the most widely grown staple crop in Africa, with more than 300 million Africans depending on it as their main food source. But droughts can lead to unpredictable and low yields. For the project, Monsanto contributes its technical expertise to develop and deploy locally adapted maize hybrids, and it donates its seed technology to companies in Africa on a royalty-free basis.

Amber Pankonin, a registered dietician who partners with Monsanto for some of her work, talked about her efforts using social media to improve consumers’ diets. She blogs at

Jack Bader, a serial tech entrepreneur, talked about his partnerships with Monsanto to help boost technology in the ag sector. He also talked about his involvement with the XPrize, which seeks to spur change by rewarding technological breakthroughs.