Harvest With Fear
Monsanto positions itself as a relatively new agricultural company having formed in 2002, and focused on supporting local farmers around the world. They also promote themselves as a guardian of the environment with a mission “to produce more food while conserving more” (Monsanto.com). Today’s Monsanto conglomerate also promotes itself as the “New Merchants,” a leading research company in the field of agriculture-crop production, as well as a strong supporter of public and private research through its grant, donations and University scholarship programs.
Monsanto’s actual history stretched back to 1901 when the original company was founded by John F Queeny who was married to Olga Monsanto Queeny where the company name originates from. The first product produced by the company in 1901 was saccharine.
Today’s Monsanto has tried hard to clean-up its previously tarnished image as a chemical company responsible for the introduction of herbicides into agriculture, as well as other toxic chemicals such as orange, Bovine growth hormones and PCBs. Its controversial history is a major reason why the company refers to itself as the “New Merchants” and now positions itself as an agricultural company. The company’s key mission is to help farmers feed the worlds growing population. It claims that by the year 2050, food production must double to feed an expected population of 9.3 billion people.
Monsanto uses leading edge agricultural technology and innovation to help overcome the many challenges to food supply, such as water shortages, energy shortage and climate change. Its goal is to help farmers produce more food by developing improved needs that increase crop yields and use less resources.
This use of this technology by Monsanto is at the heart of the major present day controversy regarding Genetically Modified foods (GMO). Monsanto is seen as the major world-wide culprit and the largest producer of genetically engineered products. In addition to achieving higher crop yields, the GMO is used to make seeds resistant to the company’s own best selling herbicide products in the past 30 years.
A review of the company’s long history reveals how it started in 1901 as a chemical company producing saccharine to become a giant worldwide agricultural conglomerate. The following is a timeline which shows the progression of the company’s growth and development of key products. (Monsanto.com) 1901
| American businessman John F Queeny started his own chemical company Monsanto, in St. Louis, Missouri, with the first product produced being the synthetic sweetener saccharin.
| Monsanto starts producing agriculture chemicals such as 2, 4-D (2, 4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic Acid), which is a herbicide used in the control of certain types of weeds.
| Monsanto starts to aggressively market its herbicide products using Western Movie names such as “Ramrod.”
| Monsanto introduces its “Lasso” herbicide in US which starts the trend toward reduced-tillage farming.
| Monsanto commercializes its most popular herbicide in the US called “Roundup”
| Monsanto establishes a Molecular Biology group within the company and the nest year Monsanto scientists are the first to genetically modify a plant cell. This pioneers the trend towards genetically engineered products at Monsanto.
| Monsanto starts the first field trials of its genetically modified plants (crops)
| Monsanto gets US government approval for its dairy cow growth hormone, Posilac, and it is subsequently sold in US. The hormone increases the milk yield in cows. Posilac was banned from use in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Europe by the year 2000.
| Monsanto expands by acquiring biotechnology assets of other companies in the industry (i.e. Agracetus and Calgene).- Major product introduction includes “Roundup Ready” soybeans. These seeds are developed...
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