I have always liked the concept of empathy–or putting yourself into another’s shoes. I truly believe we would have a better world if people only make a little effort to look for different perspectives and realities before opening their mouth or doing things.
Let’s try an exercise. Close your eyes and picture yourself trying to survive with less that $1 a day. Can you do it? Ha! Pretty hard, especially if you were lucky enough to have been born and/or live in a developed country where–even in the middle of an economic crisis–a good dinner and a decent place to live is almost assured for most of us.
Anyway, no matter how hard this might be for us to conceive, that is the daily reality for 900 million people in rural areas around the world. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the world’s hungry are resource-poor farmers, and another 20 percent are landless and rely exclusively on agriculture for their livelihood.
So, you may wonder why a Monsanto employee (in fact, not even that, just a contractor) is bringing this topic up. The reason is because this corporation, alleged by some to be evil, unethical and harmful, is investing 2.6 million dollars a day on research that is contributing to the development of advanced hybrid and biotech seeds that are helping rural families. This assures these farmers food to eat plus it is giving them a surplus harvest to sell, which increases their income and allows them to access better health services and formal education for the first time in their lives.
In February 2009, Monsanto launched–in association with ISAP—Project SHARE, an initiative to establish a sustainable model to impact the lives of 10,000 farmers across three states in India. The model will provide small-holder and marginal farmers access to technology, better inputs, agronomic practices and market linkages to expand farm productivity–making farming a viable proposition and honoring Monsanto’s commitment to help increase global food production, while improving farmers’ lives.
SHARE is neither the first nor the last project Monsanto is engaging in to help develop sustainable agriculture for everybody. Monsanto also partnered with the AATF to develop African maize varieties with the long-term goal of making drought-tolerant maize available, royalty-free, to African small-holder farmers. The Water Efficient Maize for Africa is particularly important in Sub-Saharan Africa, where farmers rely on rainfall to water their crops, especially maize–the most widely grown staple crop in Africa. More than 300 million people in Africa depend on maize as their main food source.
While almost 1 billion people survive on less that $1 a day, many people continue arguing about something they don’t even comprehend; like traits and germplasm. In fact, I wonder how many of them have ever had a conversation with a real farmer in their life. Monsanto is a 22,000+ employee company and a lot of these people are sweating their shirts everyday to help farmers around the world. This is not only because they have the ability to empathize with small-holder farmers; it is because many of them have been there once, trying to survive, knowing what hunger really is, and now they are attempting to help their families and friends.
I don’t know what Monsanto might represent to you, but whether you like it or not, this company holds together a group of extraordinary people from all over the world who work extra time and devote their lives to help make a better world for everybody, including you.
10 Reasons We Do Need GM Foods
- Why we need GM Foods
- “The future rests in the soil beneath our feet”
- Helping a Thirsty World
- It is about improving nutrition
Santiago is a Manager of Public Affairs at Monsanto. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, post-graduate studies in Social Communication & Media and an MBA in Marketing Management. Prior to working at Monsanto, Santiago taught PR for almost seven years while working as a Communications Advisor for several organizations and industries. He also worked for a multi-national IT company and an Oil & Gas company as PR Manager.