February 2009
updated October 2011
from SourceWatch Website




Monsanto is considered the mother of agricultural biotechnology.


The company produces biotechnology and genomics and herbicides for,

  • corn

  • cotton

  • oil seeds

  • vegetables

It produces genetically altered seeds to tolerate it's flagship product, Roundup.


Monsanto also produces,

  • Asgrow


  • Deltapine

  • Seminis seeds

Other products have included,

  • Agent Orange

  • the now ubiquitous PCBs

  • DDT

  • Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

  • Aspartame

In the fiscal year ending in August of 2010, the company reported sales of approximately 10.5 billion dollars and had 27,600 employees. [1]


Monsanto or Organics

Cartoon by Joe Mohr



Overview & history

The Monsanto company was created in 1901 by John Francis Queeny and named after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto.


Since that time, the name Monsanto has become symbolic of the greed, arrogance, scandal and hardball business practices of many multinational corporations. Less well known is that Monsanto was heavily involved in the creation of the first nuclear bomb for the Manhattan Project during WWII via its facilities in Dayton, Ohio.


The Dayton Project was headed by Charlie Thomas, Director of Monsanto's Central Research Department. He later became the company's president. [2], [3]


Monsanto also operated a nuclear facility for the federal government in Miamisburg, Ohio, called the Mound Project, until the 1980s.

"In 1967, Monsanto entered into a joint venture with IG Farben. (The) German chemical firm that was the financial core of the Hitler regime, and was the main supplier of Zyklon-B to the German government during the extermination phase of the Holocaust." [4], [5]

IG Farben was not dissolved until 2003. [6] See also pharmaceutical industry.


Monsanto was the creator of several attractions in Disney's Tommorrowland. Often they revolved around the the virtues of chemicals and plastics.


Their "House of the Future" was constructed entirely of plastic, but biodegradable it was not:

"After attracting a total of 20 million visitors from 1957 to 1967, Disney finally tore the house down, but discovered it would not go down without a fight. According to Monsanto Magazine, wrecking balls literally bounced off the glass-fiber, reinforced polyester material. Torches, jackhammers, chain saws and shovels did not work. Finally, choker cables were used to squeeze off parts of the house bit by bit to be trucked away." [7]

However another of their synthetic inventions, Astroturf (fake grass), survives.

See history of Monsanto time line. [8]



Food safety issues





'The World According to Monsanto'

by Marie-Monique Robin - ARTE - March 2008




On March 11 2008, 'The World According to Monsanto', by journalist and film maker Marie-Monique Robin, was was aired on French television.


The documentary you won't be seeing on American television, revealed that the biotech giant is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years.


Global GMOs & herbicide market

The top biotechnology companies are,

(Syngenta is a subsidiary of parent companies AstraZeneca and Novartis. Aventis' agribusiness division was bought out by Bayer.)


They account for almost 100% of the genetically engineered seed and 60% of the global pesticide market.


Thanks to recent acquisitions, they now own 23% of the commercial seed market. In 1999, almost 80% of total global transgenic acreage was planted in GMO (genetically modified organism) soy, corn, cotton and canola. Until then, farmers could spray herbicides before planting, but not after, as herbicides would kill the intended crop.


The other 20% of genetically modified acreage is planted with crops that produce pesticides. Monsanto’s "New Leaf" potato kills potato beetles, but is itself registered as a pesticide with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The five largest biotech companies in the world are also the five largest herbicide companies. GMOs ensure a continuous and ever-expanding market for their agrochemicals. [9]

Under current policy, the government provides large subsidies to farmers to produce grains, in particularly corn and soybeans. Livestock producers use corn and soy as a base for animal feed as they are protein rich and fatten up the animals. They are also cheap (due to government subsidies.)


Livestock consumes 47% of the soy and 60% of the corn produced in the US. [10]


Roundup Ready controversy

(Note: There are a host of other concerns with genetic modification. Issues and statistics in the fast-paced biotech world are ever in flux. The reader is encouraged to visit other websites for more and up-to-date info.)


Monsanto is considered the Mother of agricultural biotech (1).


Their "Roundup Ready" crops have been genetically engineered to allow direct application of the Monsanto herbicide glyphosate allowing farmers to drench both their crops and crop land with the herbicide so as to be able to kill nearby weeds without killing the crops.


According to Charles M. Benbrook, an expert in the field:

"RR soybeans are heavily herbicide dependent" [11], [12], [13]


Terminator technology

Monsanto came under heavy public fire with the development of their "Terminator Technology", a.k.a. "suicide seeds", known technically as V-GURTs (varietal Genetic Use Restriction Technologies) in which the seeds resulting from the first year's planting would be sterile thereby forcing farmers around the world in the Roundup Ready System to buy their seed from them every year rather than saving their best seed for the next years planting, a traditional and economical practice [1].


Seed saving has had the benefit of allowing farmers to continually improve the quality of their crops through careful artificial selection.

Fears were also expressed that Monsanto's terminator genes could spread to wild plants.


According to the UN Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture,

"Cross-fertilizing V-GURT containing crops may cause considerable effects in neighboring crop stands and wild relatives... The fact that in North America, where large stands of GMO varieties are now grown contamination of non-GMO varieties by GMO germplasm has been observed... suggests that this scenario is a realistic probability" [2].


Campaign to undermine organic agriculture

Monsanto partially funds the anti-organic Center for Global Food Issues, a project of the right-wing Hudson Institute. It is run by Dennis Avery [3][4] and his son Alex Avery.


Here find the latest on Hudson's anti-environmental and pro-biotech spinmeister Michael Fumento, and his secretly taking money (at least $60,000) from Monsanto. See also [5].

In 1998 Dennis wrote an article that began,

"'According to recent data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people who eat organic and natural foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157:H7)'.


However, according to Robert Tauxe, M.D., chief of the food borne and diarrheal diseases branch of the CDC, there is no such data on organic food production in existence at their centers and he says Avery's claims are 'absolutely not true.'" [6]

Following in his father's steps Alex distorted a study from the Journal of Food Protection that showed that organic food does not contain more pathogens than conventionally grown, contrary to Avery's claims.


Genetic pollution or 'How to succeed without really trying'

Organic farms are increasingly finding that via cross-pollination their pure food has been contaminated with GM DNA thus ruining their businesses [7] [8].

"In 2002, Ontario farmer Alex Nurnberg had tests conducted on his 100-ton harvest of organic corn. Twenty tons were found to be contaminated by GMOs, which Nurnberg believes were blown by the wind from the corn on a neighboring farm. 'I was not ready for it. I feel such a wrath about it,' says Nurnberg" [9].


Monsanto & GM foods & health risks

Courtesy of Jeffrey M. Smith

Rhetoric from the United States government since the early 1990s proclaims that genetically modified (GM) foods are no different from their natural counterparts that have existed for centuries.


But this is a political, not a scientific assertion. Numerous scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consistently described these newly introduced gene-spliced foods as cause for concern.


In addition to their potential to produce hard-to-detect allergies and nutritional problems, the scientists said that,

“The possibility of unexpected, accidental changes in genetically engineered plants” might produce “unexpected high concentrations of plant toxicants.”1

GM crops, they said, might have “Increased levels of known naturally occurring toxins... appearance of new, not previously identified” toxins, and an increased tendency to gather “toxic substances from the environment” such as “pesticides or heavy metals.”


They recommended testing every GM food “before it enters the marketplace.”2

But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was under orders from the first Bush White House to promote the biotechnology industry, and the political appointee in charge of agency policy was the former attorney for biotech giant Monsanto - and later became their vice president.


The FDA policy ignored the scientists’ warnings and allowed GM food crops onto the market without any required safety studies.


Bovine growth hormones (rBGH)



Dairy cows on rBGH


The FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) being injected into cows on February 4th, 1994.


Both Europe and Canada turned down Monsanto's application for approval. Developed and manufactured by the Monsanto, this genetically engineered hormone forces cows to artificially increase milk production by 10 to 15%. [14]


Monsanto spent approximately half a billion dollars on a hormone to increase milk production (for an already glutted, taxpayer-subsidized market).


Additionally, Posilac creates additional Growth Factor One (IGF-1) in milk (a growth hormone which is identical in cows and humans). IGF-1 is considered to be a fuel cell for cancer growth and has been identified in the rapid growth cancer. The FDA insists that IGF-1 is destroyed in the stomach. [15]


However, if that were true, the FDA has proven that breast feeding cannot work. [16]


It is worth noting that rBGH is banned in every industrialized country in the world except for the U.S., Mexico and Brazil. According to Dr. Michael Hanson of the Consumers Union of the U.S., there is strong scientific evidence to support potential health hazards of rBGH and a case for labeling dairy products that contain rBGH. [17]

The need for such for an increase in milk production has been questioned since the dairy industry has been overproducing for 60 years. Between 1986 and 1987, under the Dairy Termination Program, dairy farmers were paid over 1.3 billion dollars to slaughter their cows. 144 dairy producers received over one million apiece to refrain from dairy farming for five years and one California producer received 20 million dollars.


However, according to the General Accounting Office (GAO):

"Total milk production did not decrease because nonparticipating farmers increased their production". [18]

Additionally, cows injected with rBGH also have a 25% increase in udder infections and a 50% increase in lameness. [19]


In August 2008, Monsanto sold their Posilac division to Eli Lilly [20]


Monsanto sells U.S. Posilac (rBGH) division to Eli Lilly

In August 2008, Monsanto sold their Posilac division to Eli Lilly and Company for $300 million (who exclusively sold Posilac outside the US for 10 years before the acquisition.) [21], [22]


Labeling issues, revolving doors, rBGH & bribery

An issue of growing concern is the Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods [10].


Many have questioned why it is that while consumers in Europe have the right to know through labeling which foods contain GM ingredients and thus to make an informed choice consumers in the United States, purportedly the bastion of freedom, democracy and the "free market" in the world are denied this same right.


Polls indicate that the great majority of Americans who are aware of the issue want labels [11]. Attempts to accomplish some kind of labeling have repeatedly been rebuffed due to tremendous opposition from biotech, which fear loss of sales if people know [12][13]. In 2002 Oregon tried and failed to pass just such a labeling initiative (Measure 27).


The campaign cited big money and misinformation propagated by biotech as contributing to the defeat [14].



GM trees, grasses & wheat

Food crops are not the only area Monsanto and others have hoped to cash in on with their technology, also with frightening consequences, a range of genetically engineered "designer" trees and forests are also high on their list.


From trees modified to withstand Monsanto's Roundup to trees designed with a reduced lignin content (lignin gives trees strength and rigidity) to appeal to the paper making and construction industry to "terminator trees" which don't produce seeds. This has met with fierce resistance from activists and scientists alike, but again, to no avail [15] [16] [17] [18].


Already there has been a contamination issue with the GE papaya tree, the world's first commercially planted genetically engineered tree, which enraged local farmers in Hawaii [19].

Monsanto made news in 2004 when it decided to withdraw its GM wheat from the market due to worldwide opposition. [20] Environmental risks of GM wheat.



Update: Monsanto has apparently changed its mind and again is attempting to commence cultivation of GM wheat.

"'We’re encouraged,' says Monsanto’s Trish Jordan. 'There may be some opportunity for us to re-enter the wheat space'" [21].

This has created a furor with wheat growers.




Indian suicides


Farmers in India are finding that the "biotechnology revolution" is having a devastating effect on their crop lands and personal debt levels.

"In 1998, the World Bank's structural adjustment policies forced India to open up its seed sector to global corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The global corporations changed the input economy overnight.


Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved" Says Vandana Shiva, leader of the movement to oust Monsanto from India.


Mexican maize mischief

Dr Ignacio Chapela, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and graduate student David Quist were the target of attack by Monsanto after publishing a paper in the science journal Nature telling of contamination of indigenous Mexican maize (corn) with GMOs.





The lead-up to the incident, however, is downright spooky (1).


Still, Chapela was determined to publish what they found. So Monsanto employed the services of a firm called Bivings Group which used a phony e-mail campaign to persuade the prestigious science journal Nature to retract the paper, the first time in the publication's 133 year history that it had ever retracted a paper. [22] [23]


Monsanto, agent Orange, dioxins & Plan Columbia

The following is excerpted from The Legacy of Agent Orange.

"Agent Orange was manufactured by Monsanto, Dow Chemicals (manufacturers of napalm), Uniroyal, Hercules, Diamond Shamrock, Thompson Chemical and TH Agriculture. Monsanto [was] the main supplier.


The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange to Vietnam...


Monsanto's involvement with the production of dioxin contaminated 2,4,5-T dates back to the late 1940s.

'Almost immediately workers started getting sick with skin rashes, inexplicable pains in the limbs, joints and other parts of the body, weakness, irritability, nervousness and loss of libido,' to quote Peter Sills, author of a forthcoming book on dioxins.

Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems but once again a cover-up was the order of the day...


Operation Hades, later changed to Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed 6 million acres of forest in Vietnam, 19 million gallons of defoliant. The intention was to turn Vietnam into desert, to cause such destruction that Vietnam would never recover...


The most gruesome legacy caused by spraying Vietnam with dioxin contaminated Agent Orange was that born by the Vietnamese themselves. In a locked room of Tu Du Obstetrical and Gynecological Hospital in Saigon are rows of formaldehyde-filled jars containing deformed fetuses, a grotesque illustration of Man's inhumanity to Man.


The level of poverty in Vietnam prevents the preservation of further examples. Many of the living have fared little better, limb deformities, cancers."

"The Vietnamese government estimates that three million Vietnamese were exposed to these chemicals during the war, and that at least 800,000 suffer serious health problems today as a result". [23]

According to Dean Kokkoris, an attorney for the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) class action lawsuit against the chemical manufacturers,

"C.H. Boehringer Sohn discovered a way to minimize the dioxin content in a substance by keeping down the temperature in the autoclave [during manufacture]... Dow, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock were able to make a batch of Agent Orange in about forty-five minutes, but if they'd lowered the temperatures, it would have taken a lot longer - possibly twelve hours - to make the same batch of herbicide.


By keeping the autoclave temperatures higher, they made it more quickly and for a lot cheaper. Dow and other manufacturers of Agent Orange ignored the safety precautions because they wanted to make Agent Orange more quickly, and they wanted to make more of it."[24]

Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., who,

"ordered the use of Agent Orange along the banks of rivers and canals" in Vietnam, and whose "son, Lieutenant Elmo Zumwalt III, served on one of the boats that plied these waterways," "fathered a son with learning disabilities and, after a long, hard struggle... died of cancer," [25] issued an extensive classified report to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs "on the Association between Adverse Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange" in 1990.

The report concluded,

"with a very high degree of confidence, that it is at least as likely as not that the following are caused in humans by exposure to TCDD [dioxin]: non-Hodgkin’ s lymphoma, chloracne and other skin disorders, lip cancer, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, lung cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects and auto - immune diseases and disorders.


In addition, I am most comfortable in concluding that it is at least as likely as not that liver cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, leukemia, malignant melanoma, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects, and gastrointestinal disease are service - connected."

It also found that,

"recent litigation against the Monsanto corporation revealed conclusive evidence that studies conducted by Monsanto employees to examine the health effects of exposure to dioxin were fraudulent. These same fraudulent studies have been repeatedly cited by government officials to deny the existence of a relationship between health problems and exposure to Agent Orange".[26]

Nevertheless, in May 1984,

"lawyers who represent[ed] Vietnam veterans and their families agree[d] to a $180 million out-of-court settlement with the chemical companies that manufactured and sold Agent Orange to the military during the war... With this out-of-court settlement, Dow, Monsanto, et al. [won] a monumental battle."[27]

Agent Orange produced by Monsanto and others was also applied in Korea.


According to Fred Wilcox's 2011 Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam,

"in January 2006, a Seoul court ordered Dow Chemical and Monsanto to pay $62 million to 6,800 Korean veterans and their families."

At the same time,

"New Zealand's Vietnam veterans were planning to file a lawsuit against the US chemical companies claiming $3 billion in compensation."[28]


Global bully

Monsanto has sued many a farmer when their GM crops have turned up on the farmer's fields even though the farmers say they never planted them (examples)[24] [25] [26].


For an alarming expose of Monsanto's legal battles with American farmers see the report Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers.


Global pollution

In the Washington Post article (Jan 1, 2001) "Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told" a grim story of Monsanto's treacherous behavior in Anniston Alabama was revealed.


It is summed up in this chilling paragraph:

"They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills.


And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents - many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" - show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew." [27] [28]


Monsanto & world food crisis

Monsanto, ever on the lookout for a new financial opportunity, especially one which, on the surface at least, appears to be benevolent found one in biofuels.


The growing of corn, in Monsanto's case, genetically engineered corn, for the production of ethanol purportedly to reduce the use of fossil fuels [29][30][31][32].


Unfortunately though, as is often the case with Monsanto, this silver lining has a rather large and ominous cloud, and in the massive diversion of land once used to grow food to growing crops for the fueling of automobiles yet another crisis has ensued. In early 2010, Monsanto, along with other biotech companies and philanthropists, became involved in an ongoing project designed to develop new African drought-tolerant maize varieties.


While the new seeds promise increased yields during drought years, the project (specifically Monsanto's involvement) is not without controversy.


Corporate controlled food supply

In early 2009, corporations like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Sodexo and Tyson Foods wrote and sponsored "food safety" bills which, according to critics; hand control and policing of food to factory farms and corporations.


They point out that bills impose industrial, anti-farming "standards" to independent farms. Also, that they subject those who do not use chemicals and fertilizers to severe penalties, which apply even to producers growing food for their own consumption.


The Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875 [29] was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, whose husband (Stanley Greenburg) works for Monsanto.


According to critics, the bill includes criminalization of seed banking, prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers; 24 hour GPS tracking of their animals and warrantless government entry. [30], [31]



Animal testing

Monsanto does animal testing.


Contract testing

Monsanto contract tests out to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). [32]


HLS is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in all of Europe. Firms hire HLS to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins.


HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations.





Monsanto & Fox News - Partners in censorship





Fox News kills Monsanto rBGH milk story

Steve Wilson & Jane Akre

September 2006



In the fall of 1996, award-winning investigative journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were hired by WTVT in Tampa, Florida to produce a series on rBGH.


After over a year's work and three days before the series was scheduled to air, Fox News executives received the first of two letters from Monsanto's lawyers.


According to the letters, Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" if the series ran. The second letter warned of "dire consequences" of the series was aired as it stood. (How Monsanto knew what was in the series, remains a mystery.)


WTVT had been advertising the series aggressively, but canceled it at the last moment. According to Florida Court records, Fox's lawyers then attempted to water down the series, twice offering to pay the journalists to leave the station and keep quiet about what had been done to their work. The reporters refused and filed a lawsuit against WTVT on April 2, 1998.

The lawsuit charged that WTVT violated its license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by demanding that the journalists include known falsehoods in the rBGH series. They also charged that WTVT violated Florida's whistle blower law. On three separate occasions, Fox attempted to have the case summarily dismissed.


However, after a five-week trial and six hours of deliberation ending on August 18, 2000, the jury unanimously determined that Fox,

"acted intentionally and deliberately to falsify or distort the plaintiffs' news reporting on BGH."

They also found that Jane's threat to blow the whistle on Fox to the FCC, was the sole reason for their termination. She was awarded $425,000 in damages.


On February 14, 2003, after six rejections by three different judges, Fox finally managed to win an appeal. [33], [34]




GMO seeds have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide, survive the spraying of Roundup and self terminate.


They are also incredibly expensive compared to traditional seeds. As a result, farmers in India were forced into total dependence on Monsanto by having to purchase new seeds annually. Because of Monsanto's ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground, 125,000 farmers took their own lives after being driven into a hopeless cycle of debt and losing their lands and homes.

GMOs, which were never adequately tested for safety, have failed catastrophically. At least 70% of our food contains genetically engineered food brought by Monsanto. GMO is endangering our health and environment at an alarming rate.


Cross contamination is irreversible and good organic crops are being jeopardized.



Political contributions

Monsanto gave $658,207 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC):

  • 48% to Democrats

  • 52% to Republicans [35]


Public relations & lobbying

Monsanto spent $6,560,000 for lobbying in 2010. $1,030,000 was to outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists.[36]


Center for Consumer Freedom

Monsanto has donated to the front group Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). CCF runs attack campaigns against health, food safety, animal rights and animal welfare advocates.




Key executives pay

  • Hugh Grant - Chairman, CEO & President, 1.41 M

  • Robert T. Fraley, PhD - CTO& Executive VP, $602K & 2.85 M in exercised options

  • Brett D. Begemann - CCO & Executive VP, $542K

  • David F. Snively - Executive VP & General Counsel, 481K

  • Pierre Coorduroux [37]


Board of Directors

  • John W. Bachmann

  • David L. Chicoine

  • Janice L. Fields

  • Hugh Grant

  • Arthur H. Harper

  • Laura K. Ipsen

  • Gwendolyn S. King

  • C. Steven McMillan

  • William U. Parfet

  • George H. Poste

  • Robert J. Stevens [38]


Monsanto 800 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63167
Phone: 314-694-1000
Fax: 314-694-8394
Web address: http://www.monsanto.com

Monsanto subsidiaries

  • Asgrow Agronomics

  • DEKALB Genetics Corporation




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    24. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), pp. 123-4

    25. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), pp. 53-4

    26. Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., Report to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Association Between Adverse Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange, Department of Veterans Affairs report, May 5, 1990, pp. 37 & 53

    27. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), p. 63

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