In the news lately for asserting its [extended] patent rights and squelching attempts to label genetically modified foods, the mention of the word ‘Monsanto’ likely conjures up images of family farmers being sued, Agent Orange, the notorious rBGH growth hormone for cows, the suspected carcinogen saccharin, and many other notorious legacies. Now Grassroots International’s ally Food and Water Watch has produced a fascinating and comprehensive report that traces the corporation’s history and close links to legislators, academic researchers, and government regulators. The corporate profile tracks Monsanto’s growth from its early days as a chemical company to the largest biotechnology seed juggernaut on the planet. The report recommends action that the federal government should take to temper Monsanto’s unchecked control over agricultural research and development.
The following is a short introduction to that report:
You know who Monsanto is. Even if you don’t recognize the company name, you’ve come across some of its products: maybe you’ve used Roundup weed killer on your lawn or garden, you’ve heard about the debate over treating cows with the artificial growth hormone rBGH, you’re worried about unlabeled genetically engineered organisms in your food, or you’ve learned about the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, maybe from family members, coworkers or friends who suffered the health consequences. These may not seem related, but they all are a major part of Monsanto’s legacy.
The agriculture and life sciences company that’s known today as Monsanto is only a recent development. Most of Monsanto’s history is steeped in heavy industrial chemical production — a legacy that is extremely at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey. (See the full Food and Water Watch report)