The ethics of big data in big agriculture

Isabelle M. Carbonell - Internet Policy Review

Type: Article
Knowledge level: Introductory

Farm Table says:

'Big Data' and 'Big Agriculture' are strong terms used in the US agricultural industry, this article discusses the ethics surrounding these key areas and how the role of farmers and large agribusinesses is somewhat disjointed when it comes to big data.

This article from the United States discusses the ethics of big data in big agriculture and what differences exist between farmers and large agribusinesses such as Monsanto.

Key points were as follows:

  • Big data has been bought into with the recent purchase of Climate Corp. by Monsanto in a whopping $930M (US) sale, meaning that Monsanto is now the largest agribusiness to buy into big data.
  • Monsanto now has access to a third more data than they did previously and its being obtained through a Wi-Fi connection.
  • One of the main questions in this situation with Monsanto is how can this data be used ethically in relation to agricultural production?
  • The distinct divide with big data is where farmers are collecting the data during the operating of their enterprises and companies are obtaining and controlling the access of the data without the farmers being able access or understand how their data is being used.
  • Conventional industrial farms come under the term ‘big agriculture’ and big data collection doesn’t occur in this area.
  • In terms of using large agribusinesses and complying with the data collection for using their product on-farm “farmers increasingly have to reveal their most personal farm details to gain access to the benefits of technology, while those who turn the data into useful information, such as Monsanto, reveal little to nothing about the back-end processes or how or where the information will be kept or used.”
  • A high concern for farmers is commodity market speculation so the need for regulations that ensure that data being collected is not misused is at the forefront of farmers minds.
2016 - United States - Isabelle M. Carbonell - Internet Policy Review
Read ArticleSave For Later

Related Resources