By Georgius R. Gotsis Fontes, Veggies From Mexico CEO
As we stated earlier in this newsletter column, Sinaloa farmers are taking on a commitment to the future. A commitment to their clients, companies, collaborators, the environment and, of course, the planet. The only way to seal this commitment is by reaching a pact and balance between food safety, social responsibility (SR), care for resources and the environment; that is, with sustainability. In the last 20 years, giant steps have been taken in food safety and SR. Not only practices are being carried out that ensure compliance with criteria in the said aspects, but these are also being measured and improved. This is achieved through compliance with certificates recognized by government bodies and buyers, and endorsed by the Global Food Safety Initiative. Some of the most popular certificates are PrimusGFS, SQF, Global G.A.P., SMETA, CEAR, DEALTI, HACCP, among others.
However, despite these certificates are covering a large number of sustainability criteria, they are not focused on it. This raises the need, once again, to think about the future and implement additional criteria and certificates allowing us to complete the circle. Do these certificates exist? Talking with one of the most prestigious experts in sustainability, Dr. Jorge Humberto Siller Cepeda, I found out that these certificates do exist; they are worldwide and dozens of important multinational companies are participating in them. Now, we will talk about GRI Global Reporting, of System B and FoodPrint.
Global Reporting (GRI) is one of the most widely recognized standards worldwide in sustainability. It is so broad that it audits criteria ranging from anti-corruption to water use; from biodiversity to workplace safety; from tax payments to carbon emissions. It should be noted that more than a certificate, this is a report where the company dares to openly display its situation, and shows its commitment to improve. The report is divided into 5 sections: GRI101 Fundamentals, GRI102 Contextual information of the organization, GRI103 Management Approach, GRI200 Economy, GRI300 Environment, GRI400 Social. Each of these has its own criteria to report. For more details and downloading the full standard, please visit: www.globalreporting.org
On the other hand, we have System B. Its vision is “to create an inclusive, equitable and regenerative economic system for all the people and the planet.” That is, to see us all as a single living organism. Over 3,700 companies around the world and nearly 700 in Latin America are participating in this program, and they are B Certified. In other words, they comply with a series of measurable and certifiable criteria in subjects of transparency, social and environmental impacts. These are companies that go beyond just generating economic dividends, but they are also generating dividends for collaborators and the planet. This certificate is evaluated and awarded by a third-party B Lab in the US. Popular companies that you surely know such as Coursera, Toms, Patagonia, among others, hold this certificate. For more information you can visit www.sistemab.org.
Another wildly popular report is the Food Print Report (FPR). What’s behind a tomato, cucumber, pepper, mango, and corn? There is land use, water, power, labor and supplies. Food Print basically checks how much damage it does to the environment and how much energy it takes to produce our food. What are sustainable vegetables like and what does the RPF check? They are healthy and nutritional. They are grown in a company which: cares for the environment, maximizes soil health, increases biodiversity, does not use pesticides, minimizes water pollution, develops crops that adjust to climate change, supports small farmers and provides a healthy work environment with a decent salary.
I do not know if there are horticultural companies in Sinaloa, or even Mexico; which have a certificate or report on sustainability. The reality is that it will not take long before these are mandatory from the buyer and the consumer. History tells us that it will be so. But, should we take the first step to obtain them? Of course! First, by conviction and second, because we will soon be obliged to do so. In addition, this is an opportunity, as Sinaloa farmers always have, to prove that we are pioneers in innovation, quality and responsibility.