Monsanto has joined the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and is offering the WBCSD’s Business Ecosystems Training (BET) course globally for employees, according to the agribusiness company.
Monsanto says the BET course will enhance employees’ understanding of the links between ecosystems and business.
The UN expects the global population to reach 9 billion by 2050, which will mean farmers will need to grow 70 percent more food by that time, and demand for water from agriculture will likely rise from 70 percent in 2012 to at least 89 percent by 2050.
This will also put increasing strains on land and ecosystem services. Agriculture depends on healthy ecosystems for services such as pollination for nearly 75 percent of the world’s crop species, as well as fresh water, erosion control and climate and water regulation, according to an Environmental Leader column by DuPont’s Amanda DeSantis and World Resources Institute’s Janet Ranganathan.
WBCSD and Monsanto say the growing population requires new agriculture systems and products that are more productive and more sustainable. To this end, in addition to joining WBCSD, Monsanto is a member of Field to Market, which has developed a free online Fieldprint Calculator to help growers analyze how their farming practices impact natural resources. The company also reduced its direct greenhouse gas emissions 2.5 percent and fresh water consumption 2.1 percent compared to 2010 levels, according to its most recent corporate social responsibility and sustainability report.
However, Monsanto took 498th place in the Newsweek Green Rankings for 2012, an annual environmental ranking of the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the world. Newsweek said the company lacks fixed targets for emissions, waste and water. Its CSR report, in line with GRI Level C guidelines, has not been externally verified.
The company is often surrounded by controversy – not only for being a leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, but also for its seed patenting model, which critics say has pushed farmers into debt.
In joining WBCSD, Monsanto is taking a step toward more sustainable agriculture, WBCSD president Peter Bakker said.
Some 200 companies, including Dow Chemical, General Electric, the Coca-Cola Company and UPS are WBCSD members. The organization says its member companies represent all business sectors and all continents, and have a combined revenue of more than $7 trillion.
In November 2012, the WBSCD along with the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group on Climate and the International Emissions Trading Association called on policymakers to develop a clear, transparent and unambiguous global carbon price to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.