Monsanto Co. (Monsanto) operates in two segments: seeds and genomics and agricultural productivity (including agrochemicals). The seeds and genomics segment produces field crop seeds and vegetable seeds under multiple brands. This segment also develops biotechnology traits and licenses germplasm and traits to seed companies. Monsanto was founded in 1901 in the USA and has since expanded its operations to Canada, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia Pacific.

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Global Index

Field Crops

Summary of results:

Monsanto ranks fourth out of seven field crop seed companies, outperforming most of its peers in Capacity Building and scoring highly on Transparency. The company is actively engaged in several multi-stakeholder programs that target food security crops, but there is room to improve in Governance & Strategy, Research & Development and Local Seed Sector Advancement.

Operations in Scope
  • Countries in Scope
  • Company Presence
  • Production Locations
  • Breeding Station/R&D
Index Field Crops in Portfolio
Beans, dry
Leading Practices

    Monsanto provides intellectual property under a royalty-free license to the Bt Cowpea Partnership, and licenses royalty-free germplasm and biotech traits for use by smallholder farmers to the African Agriculture Technology Foundation as part of its involvement in the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) partnership. In addition, it demonstrates efforts to keep old varieties with expired plant variety protection (PVP) certificates available on the market.

    Monsanto builds research capacity in Index countries, for example through its Beachell-Borlaug International Scholars Program, which provides fellowships to individuals seeking a PhD in rice or wheat breeding in 11 Index countries.

    The company supplies specific hybrid seeds to farmers in ‘resource-constrained countries’ using differential pricing. It offers financial services for the maize and vegetable value chain through the SAGCOT partnership in Tanzania, in which peers Syngenta and Bayer are also involved. It also participates in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Partnership for Indonesia Sustainable Agriculture, which helps maize farmers to obtain financing.

    The company performs strongly in the provision of ICT support for smallholder farmers. In India, its mobile platform software Farm AgVisory Service (MFAS) distributes weather data and connects farmers with advisors who offer advice on field crops and vegetable farming.

Areas for Improvement

    Monsanto outperforms its peers in the development of improved varieties of local field crops, particularly through its partnerships for cassava and cowpea. However, it underperforms in the testing of its existing portfolio, which, due to its size, could be better utilized.

    Although no evidence was found of the company blocking the use of farm-saved seeds, it lacks a commitment on the issue. The company could consider specifically allowing the use of farm-saved seeds for non-commercial purposes by smallholder farmers.

Notable Findings

    Monsanto participates in multi-stakeholder initiatives that focus on sustainable agriculture and increased yields such as the New Vision for Agriculture, World Economic Forum’s Grow Africa and Grow Asia.

    Like its peer Dow AgroSciences, Monsanto collaborates with the Virus Resistant Cassava for Africa (VIRCA) project, to develop new forms of cassava that are resistant to cassava mosaic disease (CMD) and cassava brown streak disease (CBSD).

    The company has a policy on the quality and safety of varieties and seeds and biosafety in Index countries as well as a commitment to ethical marketing. While not in Index countries, in 2012 a court in Brazil found Monsanto to be in breach of advertising standards, ruling that its commercials for GM soybean lacked the scientific evidence to support the claimed environmental benefits. Authorities in South Africa ordered the company to withdraw a commercial for GM crops on similar grounds in 2014.

    In its seed production operations, Monsanto has implemented social standards guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. Monsanto’s Supplier Code of Conduct refers to the company’s Human Rights Policy.

    The company has relatively strong commitments to access to seeds for smallholder farmers, setting itself the goal of improving the lives of ‘an additional 5 million people in resource-poor farm families by 2020’.