S&P 500 Component
|Founded||St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. (1901)|
|Founder(s)||John Francis Queeny|
|Headquarters||Creve Coeur, Missouri, U.S.|
(Chairman, President and CEO)
|Products||Herbicides, pesticides, crop seeds|
|Revenue||US$ 11.822 billion (FY 2011)|
|Operating income||US$ 2.502 billion (FY 2011)|
|Net income||US$ 1.659 billion (FY 2011)|
|Total assets||US$ 19.844 billion (FY 2011)|
|Total equity||US$ 11.716 billion (FY 2011)|
|Employees||20,600 (August 2011)|
Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) is a publicly traded American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and of the herbicide glyphosate, which it markets under the Roundup brand. Founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, by the 1940's it was a major producer of plastics, including polystyrene and synthetic fibers. Notable achievements by Monsanto and its scientists as a chemical company included breakthrough research on catalytic asymmetric hydrogenation and being the first company to mass-produce light emitting diodes (LEDs). The company also formerly manufactured controversial products such as the insecticide DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange, and recombinant bovine somatotropin.
Monsanto was among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, along with three academic teams, which was announced in 1983, and was among the first to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops, which it did in 1987. It remained one of the top 10 U.S. chemical companies until it divested most of its chemical businesses between 1997 and 2002, through a process of mergers and spin-offs that focused the company on biotechnology.
Monsanto was a pioneer in applying the biotechnology industry business model, developed by Genentech and other biotech drug companies in the late 1970s in California, to agriculture. In this business model, companies invest heavily in research and develop and recoup the expenses through the use and enforcement of biological patents. Monsanto's application of this model to agriculture, along with a growing movement to create a global, uniform system of plant breeders' rights in the 1980s, came into direct conflict with customary practices of farmers to save, reuse, share and develop plant varieties. Its seed patenting model has also been criticized as biopiracy and a threat to biodiversity. Monsanto even sues innocent farmers whose frankenseeds cross polinated with theirs, which is not preventable for nearby crops. Monsanto of course has to illegally trespass and steal parts of people's crops to test them too.
Monsanto's role in these changes in agriculture (which include its litigation and its seed commercialization practices), its current and former agbiotech products, its lobbying of government agencies, and its history as a chemical company, have made Monsanto controversial.
Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901 under John Francis Queeny, a businessman born in Chicago of Scottish ancestry, who originally worked for the Jewish-owned Meyer Brothers Drug Company, one of the largest wholesale pharmaceutical companies at the time. Queeny married a Sephardic Jewess named Olga Mendez Monsanto, the daughter of Don Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto. The Jewish Monsanto family were involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and sugar plantation industry, with interests in the West Indies, Puerto Rico and Louisiana. The Monsantos were just one of many Jewish families involved in the enslavement of Black Africans. Queeny and Monsanto had children, including Edgar Monsanto Queeny, who was the second Chairman of Monsanto, carrying on the Jewish bloodline. The company's first product was the artificial sweetener saccharin, which was sold to the Coca-Cola Company.
In 1919 Monsanto expanded to Europe by entering a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr near Ruabon, Wales to produce vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid, and later rubber processing chemicals. This site was later sold and closed in 2010. In the 1920s Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals like sulfuric acid and PCBs, and Queeny's son Edgar Monsanto Queeny took over the company in 1928.
In 1946 it developed "All" laundry detergent and began to market it; they sold the product line to Lever Brothers in 1957. Also in the 1940s, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1947 one of its factories was destroyed in the Texas City Disaster. Monsanto acquired American Viscose from England's Courtauld family in 1949. In 1954 Monsanto partnered with German chemical giant Bayer to form Mobay and market polyurethanes in the United States.
Monsanto began manufacturing DDT in 1944, along with some 15 other companies. This insecticide was much welcomed in the fight against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Due to DDT's toxicity, its use in the United States was banned in 1972. In 1977 Monsanto stopped producing PCBs; the United States Congress banned domestic PCB production two years later. In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was also one of the most important producers of Agent Orange for United States Armed Forces operations in Vietnam.
In the mid?1960s, William Standish Knowles and his team invented a way to selectively synthesize enantiomers via asymmetric hydrogenation. This was an important advancement because it was the first method for the catalytic production of pure chiral compounds. Using this method, Knowles' team designed the "first industrial process to chirally synthesize an important compound" — L‑dopa, which is currently the main drug used to treat Parkinson's disease. In 2001 Knowles and Ry?ji Noyori won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In the mid-1960s chemists at Monsanto developed the Monsanto process for making acetic acid, which until 2000 was the method most widely used to make this important industrial chemical. In 1965 Monsanto chemists invented AstroTurf, which the company then commercialized.
In 1968 they became the first company to start mass production of (visible) light emitting diodes (LEDs), using gallium arsenide phosphide. This ushered in the era of solid-state lights. From 1968 to 1970, sales doubled every few months. Their products (discrete LEDs and seven-segment numeric displays) became the standards of industry. The primary markets then were electronic calculators, digital watches, and digital clocks. Monsanto was a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s.
In 1979 Monsanto established the Edgar Monsanto Queeny safety award in honor of its former CEO (1928?1960), an annual $2,000 prize given to a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers to encourage accident prevention.
Monsanto scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell in 1982. Five years later, Monsanto conducted the first field tests of genetically engineered crops.
In 1985 Monsanto acquired G. D. Searle & Company, a life sciences company focusing on pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and animal health. In 1993 Monsanto's Searle division filed a patent application for Celebrex, which in 1998 became the first selective COX‑2 inhibitor to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Celebrex became a blockbuster drug and was often mentioned as a key reason for Pfizer's acquisition of Monsanto's pharmaceutical business in 2002.
In 1996 Monsanto purchased Agracetus, the biotechnology company that had generated the first transgenic varieties of cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and other crops, and which Monsanto had already been licencing technology from since 1991. Monsanto first entered the maize seed business when it purchased 40% of DEKALB in 1996; it purchased the remainder of the corporation in 1998. In 1998 Monsanto purchased Cargill's seed business, which gave it access to sales and distribution facilities in 51 countries. In 2005, it finalized the purchase of Seminis Inc, a leading global vegetable and fruit seed company, for $1.4 billion. This made it the world's largest conventional seed company at the time.
In 2014, Monsanto tried to patent a natural mutation of a tomato which evolved a naturally occurring resistance to a fungal disease called botrytis. The tomato is not genetically modified, but Monsanto manipulated documents to make the plant look ‘invented’ by biotech when the plant’s true maker is Mother Nature, herself.
Spin-offs and mergers
Through a series of transactions, the Monsanto that existed from 1901 to 2000 and the current Monsanto are legally two distinct corporations. Although they share the same name and corporate headquarters, many of the same executives and other employees, and responsibility for liabilities arising out of activities in the industrial chemical business, the agricultural chemicals business is the only segment carried forward from the pre-1997 Monsanto Company to the current Monsanto Company. This was accomplished beginning in the 1980s:
- 1985: Monsanto purchased G. D. Searle & Company for $2.7 billion in cash. In this merger, Searle's aspartame business became a separate Monsanto subsidiary, the NutraSweet Company. CEO of NutraSweet, Robert B. Shapiro, became CEO of Monsanto from 1995 to 2000.
- 1996: Acquired Agracetus, a majority interest in Calgene, creators of the Flavr Savr tomato, and 40% of DEKALB Genetics Corporation. It purchased the remainder of Dekalb in 1998.
- 1997: Monsanto spun off its industrial chemical and fiber divisions into Solutia Inc. This transferred the financial liability related to the production and contamination with PCBs at the Illinois and Alabama plants. In January, Monsanto announced the purchase of Holden's Foundations Seeds, a privately held seed business. By acquiring Holden's, Monsanto became the biggest American producer of foundation corn, the parent seed from which hybrids are made. The combined purchase price was $925 million. Also, in April, Monsanto purchased the remaining shares of Calgene.
- 1999: Monsanto sold off NutraSweet Co. and two other companies.
- 2000 (spring): Monsanto merged with Pharmacia & Upjohn, and the agricultural division became a wholly owned subsidiary of the "new" Pharmacia; the medical research divisions, which included products such as Celebrex, remained in Pharmacia.
- 2000 (October): Pharmacia spun off its Monsanto subsidiary into a new company, the "new Monsanto". As part of the deal, Monsanto agreed to indemnify Pharmacia against any liabilities that might be incurred from judgments against Solutia. As a result, the new Monsanto continues to be a party to numerous lawsuits that relate to operations of the old Monsanto.
- 2005: Monsanto acquired Emergent Genetics and its Stoneville and NexGen cotton brands. Emergent was the third largest U.S. cotton seed company, with about 12 percent of the U.S. market. Monsanto's goal was to obtain "a strategic cotton germplasm and traits platform."
- 2007: In June, Monsanto completed its purchase of Delta and Pine Land Company, a major cotton seed breeder, for $1.5 billion. As a condition for approval of the purchase from the Department of Justice, Monsanto was obligated to divest its Stoneville cotton business, which it sold to Bayer, and to divest its NexGen cotton business, which it sold to Americot. Monsanto also exited the pig breeding business by selling Monsanto Choice Genetics to Newsham Genetics LC in November, divesting itself of "any and all swine-related patents, patent applications, and all other intellectual property".
- 2008: Monsanto purchased the Dutch seed company De Ruiter Seeds for €546 million, and sold its POSILAC bovine somatotropin brand and related business to Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly in August for $300 million plus "additional contingent consideration".
Current members of the board of directors of Monsanto are: David L. Chicoine, president of South Dakota State University; Hugh Grant, the president and CEO of Monsanto; Arthur H. Harper, managing partner of GenNx360 Capital Partners; Gwendolyn King, president of Podium Prose, a speakers bureau; Laura K. Ipsen, senior VP and general manager of Connected Energy Networks at Cisco Systems, Inc., C. Steven McMillan, former chairman and CEO of the Sara Lee Corporation; William U. Parfet, chief executive officer of MPI Research Inc.; Janice L. Fields, president of McDonald's USA; George H. Poste, chief executive of Health Technology Networks; and Jon R. Moeller, chief financial officer of The Procter & Gamble Company.
Why it is bad
Monsanto researches, manufactures and sells genetically modified seeds. Currently, 90 percent of all the world's cultivated Gen-manipulated come from Monsanto. There is criticism that the water and aquaculture businesses the company would aim to monopolize the resources vital to our survival and turn it into a market.
Monsanto has reinforced its efforts to expand its market position in the production of food and seed, which is described by critics as a global monopoly. Some criticized the contractual commitment of farmers to the company, which forbids them to own harvest to use as seed again and allows extensive control of farmers to prevent patent infringement. It is also not permitted to farmers in case of conflict, to rule against third parties. Furthermore, these farmers must contractually agree in the case of crop and yield losses (eg, decline in fertility in breeding pigs) not to sue Monsanto.
Monsanto buys numberous seed producers. The aim is obvious, even in this area to achieve a dominant position.
Tests have revealed that GM foods such as toxic GM corn's seeds travel 2.7 miles by wind instead of 65 feet a Monsanto falsely claims. Monsanto's toxic corn then infest farmers' crops and these farmers then have to destroy their entire crop partly because the food is now toxic and partly because Monsanto will come sue them and they have won for this in the past.
Monsanto has also paid farmers to contaminate their neighbors' organic farms with GMO seeds.
US government promotion
In March 2013 after protests outside the whitehouse and many mails to congress and president Obama, they passed the "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013" and Obama signed it. It contained text slipped in anonymously--that is correct lawmakers were allowed to anonymous slip things in to it--that Monsanto Corp had written themselves that prevented the courts from stopping their GMO foods (genetically modified foods). Obama had during his 2008 campaign promised to make it required that GMO foods were labeled and he never did so. The text by Monsanto was called The Monsanto Protection Act, althoubh Monsanto called it the Farmer Assurance Provision. There was major public backlash as the USA was supportive of Monsanto whereas other countries such Hungary and China banned GMO foods. On May 25, 2013, there was a nationwide protest of Monsanto held in major cities.
In July 2014, the US government pulled its foreign aid to El Salvador for rejecting Monsanto's GMO seeds. Monsanto's seeds both produce deadly crops and make farmers financially enslaved to Monsanto's patented seeds.
Obama also placed former Monsanto VP Michael R. Taylor as head of the FDA.
Seed Regulation in the European Union
Monsanto also has funded fund all-expense-paid "reporter boot camps" for food writers.
The US government allows a level of roundup to be in drinking water. The level that it currently is at is harmful to the human endocrine system. At levels that the governments of white countries allow in human drinking water, it is an endocrine disruptor. 'Endocrine disruptors' are chemicals that, at certain doses, can interfere with the endocrine (or hormone) system in mammals. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. Any system in the body controlled by hormones can be derailed by hormone disruptors. Specifically, endocrine disruptors may be associated with the development of learning disabilities, severe attention deficit disorder, cognitive and brain development problems; deformations of the body (including limbs); breast cancer, prostate cancer, thyroid and other cancers; sexual development problems such as feminizing of males or masculinizing effects on females, etc.
Studies have linked its weed-killer Roundup to a rise in chronic kidney disease that has results in thousands of deaths. Roundup also threatens the extinction of many needed insect species such as Monarch butterflies. Monsanto's RoundUp™ destroys the brains and health of humans that ingest it and since Monsanto genetically engineers plants to be able to absorb it instead of die from it, this brings this toxin into consumers that eat its GMO plants.
USDA scientists who have questioned the safetly of Monsanto's Roundup have been harassed. After thirty years of coverup, the Word Health Organization (WHO) admitted in March 2015 that Monsanto's roundup causes cancer. The active ingredient is glyphosate. The EPA archives has found that Monsanto has been aware of the dangers of glyphosate since at least 1981. The World Health Organisation has determined that glyphosate damages DNA.
Monsanto genetically engineers crops that just absorb glyphosate instead of dying so people eat it and they get it in them too, particularly corn and soybeans. Superweeds naturally adapt and continue to grow so Monsanto then uses even more toxic chemicals such as 2,4-D, a World War II-era defoliant that has been linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease and reproductive problems. This poison is sprayed near schools. Even non-GMO foods can have this cancer-causing chemical in them.
Monsanto intends to replace it with another dangerous substance known as Dicamba.
Monsanto made Agent Orange for the Vietnam War. People, plants, and animals are still sick from that today. Even US troops got poisoned by it and it took the US government until 2015 to admit it. The US government actually used Agent Orange on its own troops.
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