Monsanto Sustainability Report: GHGs Fall 2.5%, Water Use Down 2.1%
Monsanto, the St. Louis-based agribusiness and crop biotech company, reduced direct greenhouse gas emissions 2.5 percent and fresh water consumption 2.1 percent compared to 2010 levels, according to the company’s 2011 corporate social responsibility and sustainability report.
The ratio between direct GHGs and product output showed a slight loss in efficiency year-over-year. In 2011, Monsanto produced 1,195,928 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions relative to 450,435 metric tons of product output for a 2.66 efficiency rate, about 0.03 percent less efficient than in 2010. Monsanto produced 1,226,577 mt CO2e relative to 465,946 mt of product output for an efficiency rate of 2.63 in 2010.
The company didn’t provide details of how it reduced emissions across its operations or how it increased the efficiency of its product output relative to emissions in its 2011 sustainability report.
The company did provide a few examples of how it has reduced freshwater use from 20,356,223 cubic meters in 2010 to 19,928,073 m3 in 2011.
Monsanto’s seed manufacturing operations on three islands in Hawaii use drip irrigation to preserve water by delivering it directly into the plant root zone, a method that reduces the amount of nitrogen used to fertilize corn seed by up to 60 percent. The company’s Biotechnology Trait Conversion Center on Maui also purchases and uses 185,000 gallons of tertiary treated recycled water per day from the municipal waste system, to produce corn seed.
Monsanto shipped 18.879 metric tons of waste offsite in 2011, a 1.43 percent increase from 2010. The ratio between waste shipped offsite and product output also showed a loss in efficiency year-over-year. In 2011, Monsanto shipped 18,612 mt of waste relative to 450,435 mt of product output, a 0.02 loss in efficiency from the previous year.
Eutrophication, the artificial addition of nutrients such as phosphates to water, increased 38 percent to 1,035 PO4-equivalent mt compared to 750 PO4-eq in 2010, the report said.
Monsanto sustainability goals are largely tied to increasing crop yields, which in turn will require less water, land and energy to produce. The company has established a goal to double yields of its core crops, such as corn, soybeans, cotton and spring-planted canola by 2030, compared to the base year of 2000, while developing seeds and agronomic practices that use one-third fewer key resources per unit of output to lessen habitat loss and improve water quality.
To date, the company has seen farmers in key countries achieve increased yields over 2000 crop-year levels in corn, canola, soybeans and cotton. Monsanto reported crop yields in 2011 were up 33 percent for canola, 30 percent for cotton, 20 percent for corn and 11 percent for soybeans from the 2000 baseline year.
Proposed biotech crops and weed-killing chemicals, including products from Monsanto, prompted a coalition of US farmers and food companies to take legal action in April to force a government review. France also has raised concerns about Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, MON 810, and has requested that Europe’s food safety agency EFSA place a temporary ban on the product. EFSA rejected the request in May, saying it found no evidence of risk to humans or animals.
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