The ethics of big data in big agriculture

Article English OPEN
Carbonell (Isabelle M.) (2016)
  • Publisher: Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society gGmbH
  • Journal: (issn: 2197-6775, eissn: 2197-6775)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.14763/2016.1.405
  • Subject: Cybernetics | Computer science, knowledge & systems | Ethics | Commerce, communications & transportation | Agriculture | Internet Policy | Social Sciences | Q350-390 | Data-driven farming | Q300-390 | Information theory | Big data
    • ddc: ddc:380 | ddc:000 | ddc:340 | ddc:300

This paper examines the ethics of big data in agriculture, focusing on the power asymmetry between farmers and large agribusinesses like Monsanto. Following the recent purchase of Climate Corp., Monsanto is currently the most prominent biotech agribusiness to buy into big data. With wireless sensors on tractors monitoring or dictating every decision a farmer makes, Monsanto can now aggregate large quantities of previously proprietary farming data, enabling a privileged position with unique insights on a field-by-field basis into a third or more of the US farmland. This power asymmetry may be rebalanced through open-sourced data, and publicly-funded data analytic tools which rival Climate Corp. in complexity and innovation for use in the public domain.
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