Image: Mother Jones Magazine
Woman with Agent Orange Defect
Monsanto began in 1901, deriving its name from founder, John Queeny’s, wife’s maiden name. The first product made and distributed was the artificial sweetener, saccharin, bought by the Coca-Cola Company. Monsanto quickly also introduced caffeine and vanillin to Coca-Cola, eventually becoming their main supplier. The company then established themselves in Europe by collaborating with Graesser’s Chemical Works and produced vanillin, salicylic acid, aspirin and later rubber. By its third decade, they had expanded into basic industrial chemicals like sulfuric acid, and closing in on the 1940s, Monsanto became a leader in manufacturing plastics.
In 1944, being one of fifteen companies licensed to do so, Monsanto began manufacturing DDT, a synthetic pesticide which was used for agriculture to help rid of insects and to help aid disease control – until findings proved it to be toxic to wildlife, the environment and our health.