Monsanto recently announced the formation of a new MPCA or Monsanto Permaculture Alliance. The MPCA was formed to transition Monsanto from an herbicide and GMO manufacturer into a leader in the organic agriculture movement. The MPCA plans to “turn Monsanto’s liabilities into assets” using Permaculture principles.
As one company executive stated, “After attending our first PDC or Permaculture Design Course, Monsanto realized that the problem is the solution… And that we are the problem.”
Permaculture, a natural design system with roots in Australia, was created by founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970’s. There are now thousands of Permaculture projects around the globe that demonstrate how Permaculture principles can be used to design resilient, sustainable and diverse landscapes and human settlements.
While some have applauded Monsanto’s efforts, many industry observers have wondered whether it’s possible to transform what has been a GMO-producing, seed patenting, farmer-suing and herbicide manufacturing behemoth into a proponent of organic agriculture? According to Monsanto, the answer is not only that’s it’s possible, but that it’s already happening. As one representative for the company said, “We have the brains. We have the technology. We have the resources. The only thing missing is the knowledge and that’s why hundreds of Permaculture teachers are already on their way to Monsanto locations around the globe to teach our staff how to work with nature, instead of against her.”
Started in 1901 Monsanto prospered after convincing the world that it was wise and necessary to poison its food supply with toxins. In 1969, Monsanto began its rise to the top with the best-selling herbicide Lasso and since then has dominated the world herbicide market with RoundUp.
Despite grossing million of dollars last year, not all has been rosy for the GMO giant lately. New studies showing that RoundUp is much more damaging to human and ecosystem health than previously believed, heated debates over the safety and labeling of GMO food and negative press about their litigious habit of suing farmers have all made Monsanto a controversial company.
Monsanto will continue to work with farmers and crops, but in a more holistic way. “After decades of study we have sadly concluded that Nature knows more than Monsanto. We hate to admit it, but research shows that organic regenerative agriculture modeled on natural systems is the best way to safely and efficiently feed our hungry world.”
What prompted the largest producer of patented seeds to turn to Permaculture? Like many great endeavors, it started with a dream. One of Monsanto’s top executives explains, “I had a nightmare where I had to arrest my own grandfather for saving seeds. If he was alive today, he probably would be sued by Monsanto- he was a farmer. After the dream, which was really a nightmare, I sat up in bed and thought, ‘What the f*** are we doing?’ I couldn’t sleep, so I turned my computer on and started Googling terms like seed saving, organic farming and nature. That’s when I first saw the term Permaculture. After reading about the two week Permaculture Design Course, I was nervous- especially about the talent show, but I signed up and and was the first in the company to complete my PDC. At Monsanto, we claim to be committed to sustainable agriculture, but after the course I realized what sustainable really means. Agriculture has to be regenerative or else it’s harmful. Who knew the soil was alive? Monsanto didn’t, but apparently a lot of other people did and that’s why we’ve formed our new board .”
The MPCA Advisory Board will guide Monsanto in its transition from a conventional corporation to an organic one.
President- Wendell Berry
Vice President– Vandana Shiva
Integrated Pest Management Coordinator- Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet
Soil Health Consultant- Dr. Elaine Ingham, Doug Weatherbee
Organic Agriculture Advisors- Joel Salatin, Wes Jackson, Darren Doherty, Ronnie Cummins
Livestock and Climate Change- Allan Savory, Abe Collins, Julious Piti, Peter Donovan
Clean Water Experts- Brock Dolman, Brad Lancaster
Permaculture Advisors- Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Geoff Lawton, Penny Livingston, Toby Hemenway and Larry Santoyo
Press- Michael Pollan
Monsanto also has a new Seven Point Plan based on the Permaculture Ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share.
1.) Retribution– Monsanto will publicly apologize to the world for its previous rampant disregard for ecosystem, human and animal health and dedicate its vast resources to cleaning up the planet.
2.) Reimbursement– Farmers who were sued by Monsanto will be paid back in full, plus damages and interest.
3.) Toxic Waste Clean Ups
– GM fields and adjoining waterways will be treated for contamination and restored using mycoremediation
, phytoremediation, bioremediation and permaculture.
4.) Organic Regenerative Farming- Monsanto will study, promote and offer free trainings in the following land stewardship methods including, but not limited to: cover cropping, integrated pest management, low or no till plowing, composting, nontoxic weed control, aquaponics, biodynamic farming and rangeland management.
5.) Seed Bank– All of Monsanto’s seeds will be organically grown with all patents removed. Monsanto will donate money to organic seed banks around the world.
6.) GMO Free Zone– Monsanto will no longer research, use or sell genetically modified organisms. The microscopes previously used for GM research will be re-purposed and used for studying microbes in the Soil Food Web.
7.) Zero Waste– Monsanto will be a zero waste company.
Now that Monsanto is convinced that regenerative organic agriculture is the best way to feed a hungry world, will other ag giants like Dow AgroSciences, Syngenta and Bayer follow? Thanks to Permaculture and the newly formed MPCA, Monsanto’s claim to be “Committed to Sustainable Agriculture” will soon prove to be true.
Note: This is a satirical piece that I wrote about possibilities. This is not true. It’s my vision of what could happen if bio-tech agriculture and Permaculture came together. In my experience Permaculture offers a new and more holistic way of seeing the world. I imagined what would happen if a Monsanto executive took a Permaculture course, had an epiphany about natural systems and became instrumental in changing the company’s direction. It wasn’t intended to mislead anyone about Monsanto, but was an attempt to use humor to help envision a better world.