By Audrey Ball
In 2015, Monsanto became the founding co-chair of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) initiative. Through partnerships with key stakeholders and internal initiatives, Monsanto is defining a concrete path to make CSA a reality for large-scale commodity agriculture.
As a key participant in agriculture, Monsanto is a change agent in conversations for increased sustainability in food production, and also contributes the science to make this sustainability reality. Before announcing its carbon neutrality commitment last December and publicly pledging to share research findings, Monsanto commissioned a report from ICF International to measure how changing farming practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The report offers on-farm practices that can significantly reduce farm emissions in the near-term.
The report quantifies the emissions reductions of alternative tilling techniques, the use of cover crops, more precise application of inputs, and innovative uses of excess plant matter and crop residue. These strategies can not only help Monsanto reach its carbon neutral target, but they could also be a key approach to emissions reductions for the agriculture industry. According to the report, if there is 60 percent adoption of the four near-term practices detailed in the report, U.S. agriculture can mitigate more than 100 million metric tons of CO2 per year – approximately one third of cropping emissions in the U.S.
Monsanto has been engaged in the global conversation around sustainable farming, and its influence reaches beyond the U.S. agriculture sector. It co-chairs the WBCSD Climate Smart Agriculture group with PepsiCo, Kellogg Company, Olam, and works with more than a dozen other companies, including Walmart, Unilever, and Starbucks. Under the umbrella of CSA, corporations are aiming to increase food availability by 50 percent, improve resilience to climate change around the world, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent before 2030. Agriculture, forestry, and land-use changes are a source of 24 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and agribusinesses are taking ownership and initiative to change the current picture.
Monsanto is working with others to build partnerships and motivate collective action toward sustainable farming through the climate smart agriculture initiative. By funding and sharing these independent research findings, the company hopes to further the collective mission of CSA and demonstrates its commitment to engaging external experts and transparently sharing the results.