Monsanto is a company that was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny in St. Louis, Missouri. The company has a criminal past and is known for polluting the country (and others) with some of the most toxic chemicals known to man including PCB's, DDT, dioxins, and more. Until the 1990's, they were a chemical company, then they moved towards agriculture.
Prior to WWI, Monsanto was a small company that worked on the creation of new chemicals and artificial sweeteners. Their first manufactured product was the artificial sweetener Saccharin which Monsanto sold to the Coca-Cola company. During and after WWI, Monsanto began creating a new field of petrochemical plastics and the manufacture of phosphorus. The company had trouble in attempting to market consumer goods however, attempts to refine a low-quality detergent led to developments in grass fertilizer. Shortly before WWI, Monsanto began producing caffeine and vanilla. Monsanto went on to create many new petrochemicals during and after WWI. In 1917, the government sued Monsanto over the safety of Monsanto's original product Saccharin. In the late 1910's, Monsanto created more products including drugs used as sedatives and laxatives. The company then went on to make the drug asprin.
Monsanto began expanding its factory operations following the purchase of an Illinois acid company. Shorlty after, more than 500 employees of Monsanto Chemical Works went on strike forcing the plant to shut down. Monsanto then went on the establish itself in Europe and the company began expanding into basic industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid. During the late 1920's, the Monsanto company founded and incorporated the town of Monsanto (later renamed to Sauget, Illinois). The company established a chemical plant in the town and for years the plant was the nation's largest producer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Although PCB's were banned in the 1970's, they remain in the water along Dead Creek in Sauget. Monsanto began a mass production of PCB's in the late 1920's. The chemical was an oil that would not burn or degrade. Today, PCB's are considered to be one of the gravest chemical threats on the planet. Exposure to the chemical have caused reproductive, developmental, and immune system disorders. The world's center of PCB manufacturing was Monsanto's plant on the outskirts of East St. Louis, Illinois, which has the highest rate of fetal death and immature births in the state. Monsanto produced PCB's for over 50 years and they are now virtually everywhere in the blood and tissues of humans and wildlife around the globe - from the polar bears at the north pole to the penguins in Antarctica. This is because Monsanto dumped the toxic PCB's all over the place and even in populated residential areas. PCB's have also been linked to cancer as well as other serious health effects.
Monsanto went on to mass produce PCB's into the 1930's along with soap, detergents, and plastics. The company also marketed its first hybrid corn seed. In the mid 1930's Monsanto went on to purchase a series of corn products and commercial solvents. In the late 1930's, Monsanto began secretly conducting research on uranium for the Manhattan Project. During WWII Monsanto played a significant role in the Manhattan Project to develop the first atom bomb. Monsanto then went on to help with development of the first nuclear weapons.
Monsanto began focusing more on the production of new plastics and synthetic fabrics like polystyrene which is still widely used in food packaging today. Polystyrene is ranked 5th in the EPA's listing of chemicals whose production generates the most hazardous waste. During the mid 1940's Monsanto began producing DDT. The use of DDT was banned in the U.S by congress in 1972. After WWII Monsanto mastered the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture and the company began manufacturing the herbicide 2,3,5-T which contains dioxin. Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.
Throughout the 1950's Monsanto continued production in foams, rubbers, oil, and the company began producing a petroleum based pesticide. Toxicity tests on the effcts of PCB's began in the 1950's. A test in 1953 showed more than 50% of rats subjected to them died and all of them showed critical health damage. Monsanto was the creator of several attractions in Disney's Tommorrowland. Often, the attractions revolved around the greatness of plastics and chemicals. Monsanto's "House of Future" was constructed entirely of plastic, but it was not biodegradable. Disney finally tore the house down in the late 1960's but the house would not go down. Wrecking balls bounced off the house and torches, jackhammers, chainsaws, and shovels all failed. They finally managed to use choker cables to squeeze off bits of the house.
During the 1960's Monsanto began focusing on herbicides. From the early 1960's to the early 1970's Monsanto helped with production of the chemical Agent Orange which was used as a weapon during the Vietnam war. Agent Orange was a mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D and had very high concentrations of dioxin. Monsanto the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States, who faced an array of health conditions to Agent Orange exposure. Exposure to the chemical was linked to various health problems including cancer. Agent Orange contaminated more than 3,000,000 civilians and soldiers. According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, plus 500,000 children born with birth defects, leading to calls for Monsanto to be prosecuted for war crimes. During the 1960's Monsanto continued to increase its European expansion. The company began producing "biodegradable" detergents and in 1965 a chemist at G.D. Searle & Company, accidentally discovers aspartame, a substance that is 180x sweeter than sugar yet has no calories. Fake grass was also invented by employees of Monsanto. The fake grass was patented in 1967 and it originally sold under the name "chemgrass". It was shortly renamed to Astroturf and the product sold successfully. In the late 1960's Monsanto entered into a joint venture with IG Farben which was the German chemical firm that was the financial core of the Hitler regime, and was the main supplier of Zyklon-B gas to the German government. The chemical Zyklon-B was used to exterminate hundreds of thousands of jews during the Holocaust. Safety tests for aspartame began in 1967. Tests were conducted on infant monkeys. Of the 7 monkeys that were being fed aspartame mixed with milk, 1 died and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures. Aspartame is still used as a sweetener today.
In 1970, Cyclamate (the low-calorie artificial sweetener) is pulled off the market in November after some scientists associate it with cancer. Questions are also raised about safety of saccharin, the only other artificial sweetener on the market, leaving the field wide open for aspartame. More tests on aspartic acid are conducted. Studies show that aspartic acid (one of the ingredients of aspartame) caused holes in the brains of infant mice. In the 1970's, Monsanto began manufacturing the herbicide "Roudup". Even though the product has been marketed as safe even though its main ingrideient is glyphosate which is a highly toxic poison for animals and humans. In 1976, Monsanto produces "Cycle-Safe" which is the world's first plastic soft-drink bottle. The bottle is banned the following year after being suspected of posing a cancer risk.
In 1980, the FDA Board of Inquiry confirmed that aspartame might induce brain tumors. The Public Board of Inquiry concludes that NutraSweet should not be approved because of it causing brain tumors in animals. Aspartame is banned but it is approved the next year and it is still used today in food, candy, sodas, and gum along with many other Monsanto products. In 1982, Monsanto GMO scientists successfully gentically modify a plant cell for the first time. In the same year, Some 2,000 people are relocated from Times Beach, Missouri, which was found to be so thoroughly contaminated with dioxin, a by-product of PCB manufacturing. By the late 1980's Monsanto is found guilty of exposing a worker to benzene at its Chocolate Bayou Plant in Texas. It is forced to pay $100 million to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen, a worker who died of leukemia after repeated exposures.
In 1991 Monsanto is fined $1.2 million for trying to conceal discharge of contaminated waste water into the Mystic River in Connecticut. In 1994 Monsanto's first biotech GMO product hits the market. The GMO product is bovine growth hormone which is a drug for cattle called rBGH or rBST. It is a growth hormone for cattle to be injected with and despite concerns about its safety, it is approved by the FDA for commercial sale. Since then, Monsanto has sued small dairy companies that advertised their products as free of the artificial hormone, including Ben & Jerry's ice cream and most recently bringing a lawsuit against Oakhurst Dairy in Maine. In 1995, Monsanto is sued after allegedly supplying radioactive material for a controversial study which involved feeding radioactive iron to 829 pregnant women. In the same year Monsanto is labled 5th among U.S corporations in EPA's Toxic Release Inventory having discharged 37 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, land, water and underground. By the late 1990's Monsanto introduces many new biotech crops including Roundup Ready soybeans, canola, cotton, and corn. The Roundup ready seeds means that the seeds have been genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto's chemical herbicide Roundup. In the late 1990's Monsanto is accused of having sold 6,000 tons of contaminated waste to Idaho fertilizer companies, which contained the carcinogenic heavy metal cadmium, believed to cause cancer, kidney disease, neurological dysfunction and birth defects.
By now, Monsanto's GMO crops are accounted for 91% of all GMO crops planted worldwide. Monsanto is accused of hiding decades of pollution and are accused of drenching Alabama towns in PCB's with the population not being informed. The case is taken to court and Monsanto is found guilty of dumping tons of PCB's in residential areas throughout Alabama. By the mid 2000's it is found out that Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops create "super weeds" which are weeds that have become resistant to the Roundup herbicide and grow out of control.
By 2010, there have been links to health risks including caner in Monsanto's rBGH / rBST milk. By 2012, 70% of all crops worldwide and 80% of all U.S crops contain at least one genetically modified trait. Testings of GMO food conducted on rats show that rats fed with GMO food, are completetly fertile (unable to reproduce) by the 3rd generation. Rats fed with GMO also become more likely to develop health problems such as organ damage, premature death, tumors, and cancer. Today, America is one of the only civilized nations in the world who do not have GMO's labled or banned. There are 64 countries worldwide who have GMO's labled and 21 countries worldwide have banned GMO or have very strict restrictions on GMO's.