Monsanto: The Corporation Poisoning Our Environment

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    Monsanto taking over the world

    The Roundup History of Monsanto

    If you Google, ‘the most evil company in the world’, your search results will find the company, Monsanto. You’ve probably never heard of Monsanto, however, you most likely have or have had their products in your cupboards, basement, shed, or food.

  • 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.

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    House with White Picket Fence

    Monsanto was also one of a very few companies to produce the defoliant, Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War, which caused over 900,000 deaths, disabilities and birth defects. In total, over 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to this highly lethal chemical, as well as 20% of the Southern Vietnamese jungle, over a nine-year period.

    Monsanto has become the world’s largest chemical company and in recent years has begun producing a product known as, Roundup – the number one herbicide worldwide since 1980, which means that you have most likely used it or been exposed to it. This herbicide contains the active ingredient glyphosate, and began life as just another scientific word, until the 1970’s, when Monsanto developed a patent on the glyphosate molecule until the beginning of the millennium.

    Monsanto were also involved in developing another ingredient known as the surfactant, POEA (polyethoxylated tallow amine), which has been proven harmful to wildlife. Still the FDA approved it and allowed continued use of this product without divulging such important user information. Monsanto also had the word ‘biodegradable’ written on the front of Roundup’s first packaging, which scientists proved untrue and proclaimed to be a misrepresentation and false advertising. This caused Monsanto to remove it from their bottles, although they left the toxic ingredients untouched.

    Although Monsanto may not be a common household name, Scotts Brand is. Since 1999, when the Scotts Brand finalized the purchase of the remainder of Monsanto’s lawn and garden business, including the continued distribution of Roundup, Monsanto has ultimately sustained itself within our homes.

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    Toxic sign

    A Deadly Cover Up

    In 1929, Monsanto was the only American company to produce the highly toxic man-made chemical, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, better known as PCB. This 209 group of various chemicals, which share a common structure but vary in the number of attached chlorine atoms, filled the air for many years prior to its banning. PCB has a high exposure resistance, which means that it does not readily breakdown due to heat or chemical exposure. Once PCB enters an animal or human body it is absorbed within the fat and stays there. This than causes the PCB to build up and produces a chain reaction that contaminates land and wildlife – a process known as bioaccumulation.

    A horrific example was made of the people of Anniston, Alabama, when the Monsanto Factory hid PCB toxins in wetlands and polluted a near by creek. The contamination was so devastating that when scientists released fish into the creek to test toxicity, the majority died in three and a half minutes. And that was just the wildlife – think about the soil and the contamination caused by this non-biodegradable chemical that will linger on in our environment forever.

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    Tractor on farm

    The community of Anniston have the highest PCB levels in the world. This toxic chemical can cause cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, skin problems and the list goes on. It is a travesty that the amount of money paid to the victims and to clean up the area was insignificant, and till this day none of the Monsanto executives have ever been held to account in this case. This is only one example; many others across the globe have similarly been affected by PCB distributed by Monsanto.

    This entails the beginnings of what was yet to come. One may think that this would only lead to the demise of Monsanto; instead, it began a process of reformation that turned the old company into what we now know as the ‘new’ Monsanto.

    The ‘New’ Monsanto – Multinational Agricultural Biotechnology Corporation

    Monsanto’s headquarters are located in Creve Couer, Missouri, and sell 90% of the US’s Genetically Engineered (GE) seeds. It is also the world leader in Biotechnology, owning 9% or more of the world’s GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). GMO entails the genetic altering of an organism’s material using genetic engineering techniques. Recombinant DNA uses DNA molecules from a variety of sources, combining them into one molecule to produce a new set of genes. Monsanto owns Agracetus, which produces ‘Roundup Ready Soybean’ for commercial use. They also own Seminis Inc, making them the world’s largest socially accepted seed company.

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    In 1982, Monsanto’s scientists were the first to genetically modify a plant cell and by 1987, they were the first to conduct a field test of genetically engineered crops. They then transformed themselves from the world’s largest chemical giant into a biotech powerhouse in the years from 1997 to 2002. Monsanto has created patent-protected food crops, which are resistant to commercial herbicides; with the handy use of their previous invention, Roundup.

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    Greedy money

    There are over 8.5 million farmers with biotech growing crops to-date and according to International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), 90% of them are resource-poor farmers. Monsanto owns approximately 86% of the United States corn planted areas, 90% of soybean planted areas, and 93% of cotton planted areas.

    However, with their seeds being patented that means that if any genetically modified plant grows on a farm that Monsanto does not give permission to, they will than sue the farm and force them to buy equipment and chemicals to keep the crops growing. This has put farmers in a corner in which they have to comply, effectively giving up their farm to Monsanto, yet they still do all the work on their farm. Alternatively, they will go bankrupt from either continuously fighting this monster of a company in court or continuing to buy the needed goods to continue farming by Monsanto’s standards – either way the outcome is disastrous for our farmers.

    Since wind can carry these seeds, which is what seems to be what Monsanto hopes for as they have instructed people to spy on farmers in neighboring areas, even asking farmers to snitch on each other, which will then force a family owned farmer – from generations of hard work – to become a slave to Monsanto’s greed.

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    Pile of syringes

    They are continuously suing farmers around the world and rapidly owning farm after farm, producing genetically engineered foods that are finding themselves on our dinner tables more than we are aware – and it does not stop there.

    Got Monsanto Milk?

    Monsanto has also found their way onto our dairy farms. They have created a GMO that, inserted into a cow via a syringe or a gene gun, causes the cattle to produce more milk by 10% in 300 days. The Bovine Growth Hormone or BGH is a protein hormone that Monsanto has marketed as POSILAC since 1994. It’s called the recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), or artificial growth hormone, since it is derived from recombinant DNA Technology. This chemical is extremely hazardous to the health of the cow.

  • Image: PETA via Advocacy for Animals

    Effects of an injected Bovine Cow

    The use of the Bovine Growth Hormone chemical has been banned from New Zealand, and most of Europe since the year 2000. It has been banned in Canada as well, although bulk milk products from the United States that have been produced with rBST are still allowed to be sold and used in food such as cheese and yogurt. Dairy farmers in the U.S. are still using this product; only since last year have many consumers demanded “no artificial growth hormones”, which caused many milk products to become rBST-free – but not all. Monsanto, on the other hand, has lobbied governments to ban the distinction between rBST and non-rBST milk products.

  • Image: Amanda B. Cashin

    How Has Monsanto Gotten Away With So Much?

    You would think that by now a demonstration would have taken place against the growing power and global control of Monsanto. Many have wondered why it hasn’t and research suggests this is down to the constant ‘revolving door’ nature of Monsanto’s employees, which consist of powerful players and influential people. Many people who have been or currently are employed by Monsanto have also worked in government.

  • Image: Your Daily Motivation via Torontonian Online

    Knowledge IS Power

    When visiting the Monsanto website they try hard to paint a pretty picture with a variety of photos showing happy families. The truth is, Monsanto has changed our world by destroying our wildlife, health and environment, and are continuing everyday unbeknown to us. We are using products and eating foods laced with their chemicals and we unintentionally also provide these to our families.

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Erin Ryan
Erin Ryan
Scribol Staff
News and Politics
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