Monsanto, the leading producer of genetically modified crops (GMOs), has announced a partnership with Atomwise. The controversial corporation will use Atomwise’s artificial intelligence expertise to discover molecules that could protect crops quicker.
Atomwise uses deep learning algorithms to discover molecules that might have the desired effect, rather than look at every individual molecule. The program has not been active long, but already has partners at Stanford University and UC San Diego.
It takes 11 years and $250 million for the typical crop protection to come to market, according to Monsanto. Atomwise could reduce the time and cost, while also improving the chances of finding multiple ways to protect a crop from disease or pests.
“Each growing season, farmers around the world are challenged with yield-robbing pests and diseases, yet the average crop protection product takes up to 11 years and more than $250 million to commercialize,” said Jeremy Williams, Monsanto’s agricultural productivity innovations lead. “Discovering new solutions is critical, and this collaboration will help bring much-needed crop protection solutions to farmers faster.”
Artificial intelligence is being deployed in all sorts of ways to speed up the discovery process in medicine. Technology companies believe the deployment of deep learning and big data could significantly reduce the time spent looking into cures for diseases, while also potentially preventing another outbreak like ebola or AIDS.