Monsanto along with its subsidiaries is a leading global provider of agricultural products for farmers. Our seeds, biotechnology trait products and herbicide provide farmers with solutions that improve productivity, reduce the costs of farming, and produce better foods for consumers and better feed for animals.
Many people around the world play a part in shaping agriculture and in helping meet global demand in a sustainable way.
In 2008, we made a commitment to work hand-in-hand with farmers and deliver technologies that help them produce more crops, conserve more resources and improve lives. Thanks to advances in breeding, biotechnology and continuous improvement in farming practices, farmers in many countries are well on the way to doubling yields compared to what they produced in 2000. And they are also conserving more resources per unit of output, helping ensure that future generations of farmers will be able to meet the world’s needs.
But sustainability and corporate responsibility are not only about the opportunities our products create. They are also about how we manage our operations and interact with the communities we touch. The seed business is a long-term business, and we approach our environmental and safety performance with that same appreciation for long-term continuous improvement.
In 2010, we introduced Monsantogether, a program that supports personal charitable involvement by our employees and encourages them to volunteer in their communities. And in 2009, we joined the United Nations Global Compact, a joint initiative between companies around the world, UN agencies, and groups representing labor interests and civil society. The UN Global Compact seeks to advance responsible corporate citizenship and is structured around 10 principles relating to the areas of human rights, labor practices, environmental protection and combating corruption. Monsanto remains committed to the Global Compact in principle and practice.
People around the world depend on agriculture and the hard work of farmers for their most basic needs. With global population expected to grow by 40 percent in the next few decades, agriculture will need to become more productive and more sustainable in order to keep pace with rapidly increasing demands.
Sustainable agriculture is at the core of Monsanto. We are committed to developing the technologies that enable farmers to produce more crops while conserving more of the natural resources that are essential to their success.
Producing more. Conserving more. Improving lives. That’s sustainable agriculture. And that’s what Monsanto is all about.
As an agricultural and technology company committed to human rights, we have a unique opportunity to protect and advance human rights. We have a responsibility to consider not only how our business can benefit consumers, farmers, and food processors, but how it can protect the human rights of both Monsanto’s employees and our business partners’ employees.”
Global Government Affairs
We’ve one function that handles global corporate government affairs, public affairs, industry affairs, sustainability and corporate marketing and communication.
Monsanto has long been an advocate for improving agriculture with the tools of biotechnology. We believe biotechnology can help make agriculture more productive and sustainable. Forty years from now there will be an additional 3 billion people to feed, clothe and supply with energy. Technology, including biotechnology, is a key element in helping farmers meet the world’s needs. Our business is 100 percent focused on investing in the tools farmers need to meet this demand.
Many organizations share our views, but others disagree. Opponents of agricultural biotechnology cite safety and philosophical objections to developing and applying the science of biotechnology to improve agriculture.
One of government’s roles in this issue is to evaluate input from all sides and make sound policy decisions that benefit the public good. Monsanto, our partners and our opposition have all been active with nearly every government in the world to advocate our respective positions on agricultural biotechnology. This is the way it should be. It’s the right and duty of all to participate in such processes.
The world has largely embraced agricultural technology. Scientific and regulatory authorities worldwide such as the United Nations’ World Health Organization and Food and Agricultural Organization, the Royal Society in the United Kingdom, the American College of Nutrition and the French Academy of Medicine are among a number of prestigious groups that have clearly stated their views that foods from biotech crops are thoroughly evaluated through comprehensive testing for food, feed and environmental safety. Regulatory agencies in the U.S., Canada, Japan, the European Union, Korea, Taiwan, Australian, Argentina, Mexico, Russia and many other countries around the world have concluded that plant biotechnology products are as safe as current non-biotechnology crop varieties for use in food and feed.
Because of this broad support for agricultural biotechnology, opponents have accused Monsanto and others of improperly influencing governments that have adopted laws or policies supportive of agricultural biotechnology. This is simply not the case. Monsanto, like our opponents, does advocate our position before governments. We advocate for supportive policies, regulations and laws which are based on principles of sound science. We follow local laws regarding our efforts with governments and conduct routine audits to ensure our efforts are transparent, appropriate and legal. In any case where illegal actions are made by company employees or contractors, they are reported to the proper authorities.
One objection opponents of biotechnology have raised is the fact that some former government employees have gone to work for Monsanto, and some company employees have left the company to take jobs in the public sector. Some critics say this shows collusion by Monsanto and the government. Such theories ignore the simple truth that people regularly change jobs to find positions that match their experience, skills and interests. Both the public and private sectors benefit when employers have access to the most competent and experienced people. It makes perfect sense that someone in government who has concluded biotechnology is a positive, beneficial technology might go to work for a biotech company, just as someone who believes otherwise might find employment in an organization which rejects agricultural biotechnology.
The sheer numbers of countries, not to mention farmers, who have embraced agricultural biotechnology, suggest that it’s not undue influence but instead useful technology and sound science that have been the deciding factors.
Key Government Affairs Issues
Our operations are subject to environmental laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Some of these laws restrict the amount and type of pollutants that our operations can release into the environment. These laws and regulations may be amended from time to time and become increasingly stringent. We are dedicated to long-term environmental protection and compliance programs that reduce and monitor emissions of hazardous materials into the environment, as well as to the remediation of identified existing environmental concerns.
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual property rights are crucial to our business particularly our Seeds and Genomics segment. We endeavour to obtain and protect our intellectual property rights in jurisdictions in which our products are produced or used and in jurisdictions into which our products are imported. Different nations may provide limited rights and inconstant duration of protection for our products. We may be unable to obtain protection for our intellectual property in key jurisdictions. Even, if protection is obtained, competitors, farmers, or others in the chain of commerce may raise legal challenges to our rights or illegally infringe on our rights, including through means that may difficult to prevent or protect. For example, the practice by some farmers of saving seeds from non-hybrid crops (such as soybeans, canola and cotton) containing our biotechnology traits has prevented and may continue to prevent us from realizing the full value of our intellectual property, particularly outside the United States. In addition, because of the rapid pace of technological change, and the confidentiality of patent applications in some jurisdictions, competitors may be issued patents from applications that were unknown to us prior to issuance. These patents could reduce the value or our commercial or pipeline products or, to the extent they cover key technologies on which we have unknowingly relied, require that we seek to obtain licenses or cease using the technology, no matter how valuable to our business.
We are subject to extensive regulation affecting our seed technology and agricultural products and our research and manufacturing processes, which affects our sales and profitability. Regulatory and legislative requirements affect the development, manufacture and distribution of our products, including the testing and planting of seeds containing our biotechnology traits and the import of crops from those seeds, and non-compliance can harm our sales and profitability. Obtaining permits for mining and production, and obtaining testing, planting and import approvals for seeds or biotechnology traits can be time-consuming and costly, with no guarantee of success. The failure to receive necessary permits or approvals could have near-and long-term effects on our ability to sell some current and future products. Planting approvals may also include significant regulatory requirements that can limit our sales. Sales of our traits can be affected in jurisdictions where planting has been approved if we have not received approval for the import of crops containing biotechnology traits into key markets.
The degree of public acceptance or perceived public acceptance of our biotechnology products can affect our sales and results of operations by affecting planting approvals, regulatory requirements and customer purchase decisions.
Although all our products go through rigorous testing, some opponents of our technology actively raise public concern.