Hugh Grant believes that Monsanto can help the global food crisis by doubling the world’s crop yields over the next twenty years through the companies bioengineering and technical advancements. Grant, 50, has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Monsanto Company since May 2003. He began at Monsanto as the Co-President of Agricultural Sector in 1998. Since then he has also served as the the Executive Vice President and the Chief Operating Officer.
Grant understands that there are people that greatly dislike and distrust his company, but says that worldwide food shortages are too important to let differences get in the way of working together. One of Grant’s greatest concerns is not how to grow more food but, how to transport food and seeds to farmers around the world.
Monsanto was originally founded in 1901 with saccharine as its first product. In the 1940’s Monsanto began producing agricultural chemicals. In 2000 through a series of mergers they transitioned into primarily a seed and agricultural product company.
Food critiques such as Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food,” criticize the company and Grant for only focusing on one method of increasing crop yield through genetic modification. Others say that most of Monsanto’s seed growth goes towards feeding animals rather than directly feeding people. One of the most prevalent concerns over Monsanto is that they force farmers to use their seeds.
“I think a piece of the work that I continue to do is looking at a lot of the misunderstanding around what we do and the promise that this technology brings. So I wouldn’t put it in the crisis category, but I think there’s a lot of education around what is agriculture, how do you grow crops, how do you improve productivity on a farmer’s acre. That I think it’s a big piece of my job,” said Grant in an interview with Kai Ryssdal of Marketplace.
His salary this past year was $4.61 million with an additional $50.67 million in exercised options. He considers Norman Borlaug, the father of the “Green Revolution,” a personal hero and says he sometimes buys organic food for himself.