GM giant's plan to cash in on world water crisis

MONSANTO, the genetically modified food giant, drew up plans to make billions of dollars out of the world's water crisis, confidential company documents reveal. The documents, seen by the Independent on Sunday, identify a "vast economic opportunity" for the company in impending global shortages of resources such as water.

They outline a strategy to use "environmental issues" to "deliver strong financial returns" and create "a compelling possible future for Monsanto - financially, strategically and aspirationally."

The revelation of the strategy - drawn up in connection with recently dropped plans to establish water businesses in India and Mexico - follows the publication 10 days ago of a report on the growing global environmental crisis by the United Nations Environment Programme.

The GEO 2000 report identifies impending water shortage as the world's greatest environmental problem after global warming. It says that over one-third of the world's people already live in countries suffering "water stress" and that, on present trends, two-thirds will do so by the year 2025. It adds: "The declining state of the world's freshwater resources may prove to be the dominant issue on the environment and development agenda of the coming century."

The confidential Monsanto document - a "sustainable development sector strategy" and a "water business plan" use the same statistics and take up the same theme. The business plan adds that two billion people worldwide "still lack reasonable access to safe water" and says that this is likely to rise to 2.5 billion over the next decade.

The document, like much of Monsanto's material on genetically modified foods, is written in idealistic language. The strategy paper says that one of its aims, as well as strengthening Monsanto, is "to help solve some of the world's major environmental issues and to improve quality of life in the process". It concludes: "We at Monsanto have been given the rare opportunity to enjoy the wealth of spirit that comes from doing the right thing while we are doing business."

But the documents display a sharp sense of the gains for Monsanto, both now and in the future: "Initial entry into the water business will create US$400m in annual revenues ... furthermore, extension of the water platform beyond the safe and healthy water business has the potential to create several billion dollars in annual revenue."

It adds that there would be "other strategic benefits", including "reshaping Monsanto's image as a more sustainable and environmentally positive company". It goes on: "Population growth and economic development will apply increasing pressure on natural resource markets. Those pressures, and the world's desire to prevent the consequences of those pressures if unabated, will create vast economic opportunity."

Yesterday Dr Vandana Shiva, director of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in New Delhi, India, said: "Monsanto is seeking a new business opportunity because of the emerging water crisis. Since water is as central to food production as seed, and without water life is not possible, Monsanto is now trying to establish its control over it ... [as] a source of guaranteed profits. Privatisation and commodification of water are a threat to the right to life."

A Monsanto spokesman confirmed that the company had made plans to exploit the world water situation but had decided several months ago not to proceed. "We do not like to talk too much about plans that were never completed," he said. But he did not rule out that the company might return to them in the future.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Evening Administrator

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Negotiator

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Central London based firm loo...

Recruitment Genius: Events / Conference Operations Manager

£25000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot