No doubt by now you, your kids, your grandmother, your dog have all heard the name ‘Monsanto’ tossed around a conversation or two or seen it in a tweet, blog post – the news. Just who or what is this behemoth of a corporation? Recently, the consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch released a comprehensive report, Monsanto: A Corporate Profile. (see also Monsanto: Corporate Profile,pdf).
Below is an excerpt about Monsanto’s history.
Monsanto began in 1901 as a small chemical start-up
by John Francis Queeney, a man in the wholesale drug
industry. Its first product was saccharin, a sugar substi-
tute, and it became the major supplier of inputs for
another relatively new company, Coca-Cola.
By the 1920s, Monsanto’s product line had expanded to
include sedatives, laxatives and aspirin. In the late 1920s,
John Queeney’s son Edgar took over and drastically
expanded operations: Monsanto began producing every-
thing from synthetic fibers, plastics and rubber goods
to industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides and herbicides.
After a period focused on agrichemicals — including
production of the notorious Agent Orange
and production of PCBs, a class of chemicals so toxic that
they were banned in the 1970s but still pollute the envi-
ronment today — Monsanto transitioned beyond chemi-
cals into seeds. After its creation of an agricultural division
in 1960, Monsanto went on a buying spree for the next
40 years, acquiring and merging with dozens of seed and
agricultural companies (and shedding its chemical and
industrial divisions) to broaden its operations once again
and shift itself exclusively into the agricultural market.
Food and Water Watch
There are so many equally horrifying topics covered in this report, it is a bit overwhelming to scroll through it. PCBs, Agent Orange, Indian farmer suicides, saccharin & aspartame, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), GE seeds, revolving door in Washington – all linked to Monsanto.
This is a must-read if you want to understand what is behind global food production today.