Monsanto Bets That Global Warming Is Real for Business

Monsanto Bets That Global Warming Is Real for Business
Business executives are inherently conservative, ever-mindful of the bottom line. That’s why three years ago, Monsanto convened a panel of experts to investigate the science behind global climate change. They concluded “that climate change is occurring, and that its effects will be felt worldwide”. Monsanto, along with global leaders GE, Unilever, Sharp, Wal-Mart and Lafarge recognise the reality of climate change and have taken steps to address it by altering their product lines and/or reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
Monsanto bets that global warming is real
By Editorial Board St Louis Today (26 February 2010):
Business executives are inherently conservative, ever-mindful of the bottom line. That’s why three years ago, St. Louis-based Monsanto convened a panel of experts to investigate the science behind global climate change.
It may seem an unlikely topic for a biotechnology company. But Monsanto’s $11.7 billion in annual sales are heavily dependent on agriculture. It’s hard to think of another Missouri company with more at stake in a warming world.
“We got a group of our best scientists together and started thinking about the impact on our business,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant explained.
The 25 scientists heard presentations from 10 outside experts and studied the considerable body of existing evidence.
They concluded “that climate change is occurring, and that its effects will be felt worldwide,” said Monsanto vice president David Fischoff, who supervised the review.
In the nation’s capital and in Jefferson City and many other state capitals, the reality of climate change is disputed. Not in Creve Coeur, where Monsanto has its world headquarters. Since the company completed its review, no new information has emerged that would change its position, Mr. Fischoff said last week.
Business consulting giant KPMG reached the same conclusion, writing in a 2008 analysis that the “business risks and economic impacts remain underestimated.”
GE, Unilever, Sharp, Wal-Mart and even cement maker Lafarge all have recognized the reality of climate change and have taken steps to address it by altering their product lines and/or reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
All of those companies have considerable skin in the game. They’re not just talking from the sidelines, and they’re not swayed by rhetoric or emotion. These are hard-headed executives placing bets — very large bets — on the future.
Corporations aren’t alone in looking ahead. On Feb. 1, the Pentagon released its Quadrennial Defense Review. For the first time, that wide-ranging document assesses the impact of climate change on national security.
Around the globe, the review concluded, climate change “will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.”
Such changes are easy to predict because challenges to food production and water supplies already are occurring. About 70 percent of fresh water removed from available sources around the world each year is used for agriculture.
It takes roughly one liter of fresh water to produce each calorie of food energy. For someone consuming 3,000 calories a day, that means 3,000 liters, or 791 gallons, of fresh water. Per day. Per person.
The world’s population topped 6 billion people just over a decade ago; it stands at about 6.8 billion today. That means global agriculture requires enough fresh water each year to fill a canal 10 feet deep, 100 feet wide and long enough to circle the planet 180 times.
The good news about climate change is that its worst effects probably are decades away. That’s “consistent with the pace of improvement we can make through plant breeding and biotechnology,” said Mr. Fischoff, who oversaw Monsanto’s climate analysis work.
Indeed, the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program considers agriculture “one of the sectors most adaptable to climate change,” thanks in part to the work of companies like Monsanto.
The bad news is that population growth and settlement patterns already are putting significant pressures on farmers’ ability to feed the planet. World population will top 8 billion people in 20 years, and 9 billion 15 years later.
Even with the technology available in North America, where farmers use about half as much water as the global average, growing that much food is going to take an awful lot of fresh water. And there’s only so much of it to go around.
That’s driving interest and investment in drought-resistant crops and techniques to conserve water. That includes everything from plant breeding and biotechnology to the use of methods like no-till farming that conserve moisture in the soil.
Last year, Monsanto opened a $6 million facility in Nebraska to research and demonstrate ways of growing crops using less water. The company’s goal isn’t humanitarian; Monsanto is looking for ways to sell more seed and agricultural chemicals to farmers.
Politicians and climate denialists can argue against it based on ideology, but in board rooms around the world, executives are making decisions grounded in science and its implications on business.
Corporate leaders have peered into the future. They’ve already seen enough to place their bets on what it will bring.
Source: www.interact.stltoday.com

One Response to “Monsanto Bets That Global Warming Is Real for Business”

  1. David Taylor Says:

    I think it’s ludicrous to publish any information that seems to support a company like Monsanto as being environmentally or ecologically friendly. Monsanto makes poison and ensures that farmers are forced to use their poisons because they genetically modify their seeds to accept only Monsanto products like RoundUp. As is stated in the article “Monsanto is looking for ways to sell more seed and agricultural chemicals to farmers” This should read: “Monsanto is looking for ways to stand over farmers so they have to use their genetically modified seed and agricultural poisons”. Full stop.

Leave a Reply