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Monsanto

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This article is part of the Food Rights Network, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy. Find out more here.

Learn more about corporations VOTING to rewrite our laws.

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on global corporations.

Monsanto is considered the mother of agricultural biotechnology. The company produces biotechnology, genomics and herbicides for corn, cotton, oil seeds, and vegetables. It produces genetically altered seeds to tolerate it's flagship product, Roundup. Monsanto also produces Asgrow, DEKALB, Deltapine, and Seminis seeds. Other products have included Agent Orange, the now ubiquitous PCBs, DDT, Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) and Aspartame.

Monsanto is one of the "Big 6" Biotech Corporations, along with BASF, Bayer, Dow Chemical Company, Dupont, and Syngenta (so called because they dominate the agricultural input market -- that is, they own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotechnology industries).[1][2]

In the fiscal year ending in August of 2010, the company reported sales of approximately 10.5 billion dollars and had 27,600 employees. [3]

Monsanto or Organics Cartoon by Joe Mohr

Contents


Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council

Monsanto has been a corporate funder of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). [4]

A list of ALEC Corporations can be found here.

About ALEC

ALEC is a corporate bill mill. It is not just a lobby or a front group; it is much more powerful than that. Through ALEC, corporations hand state legislators their wishlists to benefit their bottom line. Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. They pay for a seat on ALEC task forces where corporate lobbyists and special interest reps vote with elected officials to approve “model” bills. Learn more at the Center for Media and Democracy's ALECexposed.org, and check out breaking news on our PRWatch.org site.


PR, Lobbying, and Political Contributions

Lobbying

2012 Monsanto Lobbying Data:

Lobbying Firm Amount Reported Issue
Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld $100,000 Issues relating to international trade agreements; introduction of client's international activities; issues relating to funding of the U.S.-Brazil Framework on cotton; issues relating to Farmer Assurance Provision in Agriculture appropriations bill (H.R. 5973)
American Continental Group $150,000 America Invents Act implementation.
Arent Fox $10,000 Importation of agricultural biotechnology products
Crawford & Mauro Law Firm $75,000 Agriculture consolidation and competition.
Monsanto Company $2,930,000 Biotech Regulations; Plant Protection Act; Roundup Ready Alfalfa; Roundup Ready Sugarbeets, H.R. 872: Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 S. 473: Continuing Chemical Facilities Antiterrorism Security Act of 2011 H.R. 901: Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011 Pesticide Registration Improvement Act, Implementation of the America Invents Act, Title II. Energy Security Through Increased Production of Biofuels, Subtitle A. Renewable Fuel Standard, Phosphate Mining, Issues related to the extension and expansion of alternative simplified research and development tax credit (H.R. 942) Issues relating to international corporate tax reform issues (S. 727) S. 1577: Greater Research Opportunities with Tax Help Act Tax Reform Act of 2011, Foreign Agriculture Biotechnology Laws, Regulations, and Trade, House and Senate FY 2013 Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA Appropriations Bills
Nobel Strategies $60,000 Biotech Regulations Roundup Ready Alfalfa Roundup Ready Sugarbeets
The Russell Group $160,000 Biotech Acceptance; Agriculture, Competition, and Related Issues; Advocacy for Plant Protection Act concerns; FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Act; Work relating to seed trade issues with South America.
The Washington Tax Group $90,000 Issues related to extension and expansion of alternative simplified research and development tax credit (H.R. 942, S. 1577); issues relating to international corporate tax reform (S. 727, S. 2091).

Monsanto spent $6,560,000 for lobbying in 2010. $1,030,000 was to outside lobbying firms with the remainder being spent using in-house lobbyists.[5]

The company spent over $6.3 million in direct lobbying in 2011 and is on pace to break that number with over $1.4 million in direct lobbying in the first 3 months of 2012.[6] The corporation focused on Roundup Ready Sugarbeats and Roundup Ready Alfalfa.

12 of its 21 (57%) lobbyists are revolving door or have worked for government at some point in their career, including Stanley Abramson who worked for the EPA, Jeremy Stump and Randall Russell who worked for the Dept of Agriculture.[7]

Monsanto Citizenship Fund, a PAC funded through employee contributions, raised $534,888,899 for 2012 elections and spent $444,257 in the first 3 months of the year.[8]

The company has directly supported at least 65 candidates for federal office in the 2012 elections, including thousands of dollars to the chairs and leadership of the House and Senate Ag Committee.[9]

Political contributions

Monsanto gave $658,207 to federal candidates in the 2010 election cycle through its political action committee (PAC) - 48% to Democrats, 52% to Republicans.[10]

Center for Consumer Freedom

Monsanto has donated to the front group Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF). CCF runs attack campaigns against health, food safety, animal rights and animal welfare advocates.

Overview & history

The Monsanto company was created in 1901 by John Francis Queeny and named after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto. Since that time, the name Monsanto has become symbolic of the greed, arrogance, scandal and hardball business practices of many multinational corporations. Less well known is that Monsanto was heavily involved in the creation of the first nuclear bomb for the Manhattan Project during WWII via its facilities in Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton Project was headed by Charlie Thomas, Director of Monsanto's Central Research Department. He later became the company's president. [11], [12] Monsanto also operated a nuclear facility for the federal government in Miamisburg, Ohio, called the Mound Project, until the 1980s.

"In 1967, Monsanto entered into a joint venture with IG Farben. (The) German chemical firm that was the financial core of the Hitler regime, and was the main supplier of Zyklon-B to the German government during the extermination phase of the Holocaust." [13], [14]

IG Farben was not dissolved until 2003. [15] See also pharmaceutical industry. Monsanto was the creator of several attractions in Disney's Tommorrowland. Often they revolved around the the virtues of chemicals and plastics. Their "House of the Future" was constructed entirely of plastic, but biodegradable it was not:

"After attracting a total of 20 million visitors from 1957 to 1967, Disney finally tore the house down, but discovered it would not go down without a fight. According to Monsanto Magazine, wrecking balls literally bounced off the glass-fiber, reinforced polyester material. Torches, jackhammers, chain saws and shovels did not work. Finally, choker cables were used to squeeze off parts of the house bit by bit to be trucked away." [16] However another of their synthetic inventions, Astroturf (fake grass), survives.

See also history of Monsanto time line. [17]

Food safety issues

See Monsanto and food safety issues.

International

Indian suicides

Image:Monsantoprotest.jpg

Farmers in India are finding that the "biotechnology revolution" is having a devastating effect on their crop lands and personal debt levels. "In 1998, the World Bank's structural adjustment policies forced India to open up its seed sector to global corporations like Cargill, Monsanto, and Syngenta. The global corporations changed the input economy overnight. Farm saved seeds were replaced by corporate seeds which needed fertilizers and pesticides and could not be saved" Says Vandana Shiva, leader of the movement to oust Monsanto from India.

For more see Monsanto in India.

Mexican maize mischief

Dr Ignacio Chapela, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and graduate student David Quist were the target of attack by Monsanto after publishing a paper in the science journal Nature telling of contamination of indiginous Mexican maize (corn) with GMOs. The lead-up to the incident, however, is downright spooky (1). Still, Chapela was determined to publish what they found. So Monsanto employed the services of a firm called Bivings Group which used a phony e-mail campaign to persuade the prestigious science journal Nature to retract the paper, the first time in the publication´s 133 year history that it had ever retracted a paper [1] [2]

For more see Monsanto's Mexican Maize Mischief.

Monsanto, Agent Orange, dioxins & Plan Columbia

The following is excerpted from The Legacy of Agent Orange.

"Agent Orange was manufactured by Monsanto, Dow Chemicals (manufacturers of napalm), Uniroyal, Hercules, Diamond Shamrock, Thompson Chemical and TH Agriculture. Monsanto [was] the main supplier. The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange to Vietnam.... Monsanto's involvement with the production of dioxin contaminated 2,4,5-T dates back to the late 1940s. 'Almost immediately workers started getting sick with skin rashes, inexplicable pains in the limbs, joints and other parts of the body, weakness, irritability, nervousness and loss of libido,' to quote Peter Sills, author of a forthcoming book on dioxins. Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems but once again a cover-up was the order of the day.... Operation Hades, later changed to Operation Ranch Hand, sprayed 6 million acres of forest in Vietnam, 19 million gallons of defoliant. The intention was to turn Vietnam into desert, to cause such destruction that Vietnam would never recover.... The most gruesome legacy caused by spraying Vietnam with dioxin contaminated Agent Orange was that born by the Vietnamese themselves. In a locked room of Tu Du Obstetrical and Gynaecological Hospital in Saigon are rows of formaldehyde-filled jars containing deformed fetuses, a grotesque illustration of Man's inhumanity to Man. The level of poverty in Vietnam prevents the preservation of further examples. Many of the living have fared little better, limb deformities, cancers."
"The Vietnamese government estimates that three million Vietnamese were exposed to these chemicals during the war, and that at least 800,000 suffer serious health problems today as a result". [18]

According to Dean Kokkoris, an attorney for the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) class action lawsuit against the chemical manufacturers, "C.H. Boehringer Sohn discovered a way to minimize the dioxin content in a substance by keeping down the temperature in the autoclave [during manufacture]. . . . Dow, Monsanto, and Diamond Shamrock were able to make a batch of Agent Orange in about forty-five minutes, but if they'd lowered the temperatures, it would have taken a lot longer-- possibly twelve hours-- to make the same batch of herbicide. By keeping the autoclave temperatures higher, they made it more quickly and for a lot cheaper. Dow and other manufacturers of Agent Orange ignored the safety precautions because they wanted to make Agent Orange more quickly, and they wanted to make more of it."[19]

Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., who "ordered the use of Agent Orange along the banks of rivers and canals" in Vietnam, and whose "son, Lieutenant Elmo Zumwalt III, served on one of the boats that plied these waterways," "fathered a son with learning disabilities and, after a long, hard struggle. . . died of cancer,"[20] issued an extensive classified report to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs "on the Association between Adverse Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange" in 1990.

The report concluded, "with a very high degree of confidence, that it is at least as likely as not that the following are caused in humans by exposure to TCDD [dioxin]: non-Hodgkin’ s lymphoma, chloracne and other skin disorders, lip cancer, bone cancer, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects, skin cancer, lung cancer, porphyria cutanea tarda and other liver disorders, Hodgkin’s disease, hematopoietic diseases, multiple myeloma, neurological defects and auto—immune diseases and disorders. In addition, I am most comfortable in concluding that it is at least as likely as not that liver cancer, nasal/pharyngeal/esophageal cancers, leukemia, malignant melanoma, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, brain cancer, psychosocial effects, and gastrointestinal disease are service-- connected." It also found that "recent litigation against the Monsanto corporation revealed conclusive evidence that studies conducted by Monsanto employees to examine the health effects of exposure to dioxin were fraudulent. These same fraudulent studies have been repeatedly cited by government officials to deny the existence of a relationship between health problems and exposure to Agent Orange" (emphasis added).[21]

Nevertheless, in May 1984, "lawyers who represent[ed] Vietnam veterans and their families agree[d] to a $180 million out-of-court settlement with the chemical companies that manufactured and sold Agent Orange to the military during the war. . . . With this out-of-court settlement, Dow, Monsanto, et al. [won] a monumental battle."[22]

Agent Orange produced by Monsanto and others was also applied in Korea. According to Fred Wilcox's 2011 Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam, "in January 2006, a Seoul court ordered Dow Chemical and Monsanto to pay $62 million to 6,800 Korean veterans and their families." At the same time, "New Zealand's Vietnam veterans were planning to file a lawsuit against the US chemical companies claiming $3 billion in compensation."[23]

For more see Monsanto, Agent Orange, Dioxins and Plan Columbia.

Global bully

Monsanto has sued many a farmer when their GM crops have turned up on the farmer's fields even though the farmers say they never planted them (examples)[3] [4] [5]. For an alarming expose of Monsanto's legal battles with American farmers see the report Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers.

For more see Goliath and David: Monsanto's Legal Battles against Farmers.

Global pollution

In the Washington Post article (Jan 1, 2002) "Monsanto Hid Decades Of Pollution PCBs Drenched Ala. Town, But No One Was Ever Told" a grim story of Monsanto's treacherous behavior in Anniston Alabama was revealed. It is summed up in this chilling paragraph: "They also know that for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents -- many emblazoned with warnings such as "CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy" -- show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew." [6] [7]

For more see Monsanto's Global Pollution Legacy.

Monsanto & the world food crisis

Monsanto, ever on the lookout for a new financial opportunity, especially one which, on the surface at least, appears to be benevolent found one in biofuels. The growing of corn, in Monsanto's case, genetically engineered corn, for the production of ethanol purportedly to reduce the use of fossil fuels [8][9][10][11]. Unfortunately though, as is often the case with Monsanto, this silver lining has a rather large and ominous cloud, and in the massive diversion of land once used to grow food to growing crops for the fueling of automobiles yet another crisis has ensued. In early 2010, Monsanto, along with other biotech companies and philanthropists, became involved in an ongoing project designed to develop new African drought-tolerant maize varieties. While the new seeds promise increased yields during drought years, the project (specifically Monsanto's involvement) is not without controversy.

For more see Monsanto and the World Food Crisis.

Corporate controlled food supply

In early 2009, corporations like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Sodexo and Tyson Foods wrote and sponsored "food safety" bills which, according to critics; hand control and policing of food to factory farms and corporations. They point out that bills impose industrial, anti-farming "standards" to independent farms. Also, that they subject those who do not use chemicals and fertilizers to severe penalties, which apply even to producers growing food for their own consumption. The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009: HR 875 [24] was introduced by Rosa DeLauro, whose husband (Stanley Greenburg) works for Monsanto. According to critics, the bill includes criminalization of seed banking, prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers; 24 hour GPS tracking of their animals and warrentless government entry. [25], [26]

Animal testing

Monsanto does animal testing.

Contract testing

Monsanto contract tests out to Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). [27] HLS is the 3rd largest contract research organization (CRO) in the world and the largest animal testing facility in all of Europe. Firms hire HLS to conduct animal toxicity tests for agrochemicals, petrochemicals, household products, pharmaceutical drugs and toxins. HLS has a long history of gross animal welfare violations.

See also Huntingdon Life Sciences.

Media

Monsanto & Fox News: partners in censorship

Fox News kills Monsanto rBGH milk story. - Steve Wilson & Jane Akre - September 2006

In the fall of 1996, award-winning investigative journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre were hired by WTVT in Tampa, Florida to produce a series on rBGH. After over a year's work and three days before the series was scheduled to air, Fox News executives received the first of two letters from Monsanto's lawyers. According to the letters, Monsanto would suffer "enormous damage" if the series ran. The second letter warned of "dire consequences" of the series was aired as it stood. (How Monsanto knew what was in the series, remains a mystery.) WTVT had been advertising the series aggressively, but canceled it at the last moment. According to Florida Court records, Fox's lawyers then attempted to water down the series, twice offering to pay the journalists to leave the station and keep quiet about what had been done to their work. The reporters refused and filed a lawsuit against WTVT on April 2, 1998.

The lawsuit charged that WTVT violated its license from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), by demanding that the journalists include known falsehoods in the rBGH series. They also charged that WTVT violated Florida's whistle blower law. On three separate occasions, Fox attempted to have the case summarily dismissed. However, after a five-week trial and six hours of deliberation ending on August 18, 2000, the jury unanimously determined that Fox "acted intentionally and deliberately to falsify or distort the plaintiffs' news reporting on BGH." They also found that Jane's threat to blow the whistle on Fox to the FCC, was the sole reason for their termination. She was awarded $425,000 in damages. On February 14, 2003, after six rejections by three different judges, Fox finally managed to win an appeal. [28], [29]

For more see Monsanto and Fox: Partners in Censorship.

Notable Quotes

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the F.D.A.'s job" - Philip Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. "Playing God in the Garden" New York Times Magazine, October 25, 1998.

"Ultimately, it is the food producer who is responsible for assuring safety" — FDA, "Statement of Policy: Foods Derived from New Plant Varieties" (GMO Policy), Federal Register, Vol. 57, No. 104 (1992), p. 229

For lots more see Monsanto Notable Quotes

Petitions

GMO seeds have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide, survive the spraying of Roundup and self terminate. They are also incredibly expensive compared to traditional seeds. As a result, farmers in India were forced into total dependence on Monsanto by having to purchase new seeds annually. Because of Monsanto's ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground, 125,000 farmers took their own lives after being driven into a hopeless cycle of debt and losing their lands and homes.

GMOs, which were never adequately tested for safety, have failed catastrophically. At least 70% of our food contains genetically engineered food brought by Monsanto. GMO is endangering our health and environment at an alarming rate. Cross contamination is irreversible and good organic crops are being jeopardized. To sign a petition addressed to the U.S. Senate, Congress and President, see also Bring Down Monsanto...

Personnel

Key executives pay

Board of directors

  • Board of Directors
  • John W. Bachmann
  • David L. Chicoine
  • Janice L. Fields
  • Hugh Grant
  • Arthur H. Harper
  • Laura K. Ipsen
  • Gwendolyn S. King
  • C. Steven McMillan
  • William U. Parfet
  • George H. Poste
  • Robert J. Stevens[31]

Contact

Monsanto 800 N. Lindbergh Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63167

Phone: 314-694-1000

Fax: 314-694-8394

Web address: http://www.monsanto.com

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles

Case studies

Monsanto subsidiaries

External links

See also Monsanto:External links & Links to Articles Cited in Monsanto Pages.

External resources

  • GM Watch, accessed January 2011

External articles

  • "Monsanto plans $4.3M R&D lab in PR" (Puerto Rico), Caribbean Business, June 29, 2011.

Videos

  • Marie-Monique RobinThe World According to Monsanto, Mongrel Media, September, 2008 ASIN: B001BBQCMC

References

  1. Pesticide Action Network of North America, Chemical Cartel, organizational website, accessed July 2012
  2. ETC Group, Who Owns Nature? Corporate Power and the Final Frontier in the Commodification of Life, international civil society organizational report, November 2008, accessed July 2012
  3. Key Monsanto Company Financials, Hoovers, January 2011
  4. Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research, project of the Environmental Working Group, Information on American Legislative Exchange Council, archived organizational profile, archived by Wayback Machine December 2, 2000, accessed August 19, 2011
  5. Monsanto lobbying expenses, Open Secrets, accessed January 2011
  6. http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D000000211&year=2011 Monsanto Lobbying, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  7. http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientlbs.php?id=D000000211&year=2011 Lobbyists Representing Monsanto Co, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  8. http://images.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00042069 MONSANTO COMPANY CITIZENSHIP FUND AKA MONSANTO CITIZENSHIP FUND, Federal Election Commission, Accessed July 18, 2012
  9. http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgot.php?cmte=C00042069&cycle=2012 Monsanto Co Contributions to Federal Candidates, Open Secrets, Accessed July 18, 2012
  10. 2010 PAC Summary Data, Open Secrets, accessed January 2011
  11. Chapter 2: High-Flux Years, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Review, accessed January 2011
  12. Biographical Memoirs V.65, National Academy of Sciences, 1994
  13. Alex Constantine Nutrapoison, Znet, July 2003
  14. A Short Curriculum Vitae of I.G. Farben, Biblioteca Plaeyades, accessed October 2009
  15. IG Farben to be dissolved, BBC, September 17, 2001
  16. Disneyland's Home of the Future, Mindfully.org, accessed January 2011
  17. Time line: History of Monsanto Co., Reuters, Nov 11, 2009
  18. Tom Fawthrop Agent Orange Victims Sue Monsanto, Corporate Watch, November 4, 2004
  19. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), pp. 123-4
  20. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), pp. 53-4
  21. Admiral E.R. Zumwalt, Jr., Report to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Association Between Adverse Health Effects and Exposure to Agent Orange, Department of Veterans Affairs report, May 5, 1990, pp. 37 & 53
  22. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), p. 63
  23. Fred A. Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2011), pp. 52-53
  24. Text of H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, govtrack.us, accessed March 2009
  25. Linn Cohen-Cole Goodbye farmers markets, CSAs, and roadside stands, Oped News, March 2009
  26. Lydia Scott HR 875 The food police, criminalizing organic farming and the backyard gardener, and violation of the 10th amendment, Campaign for Liberty, March 2009
  27. Inside Customers, SHAC.net, December 2009
  28. Sightings: Reporters Fired For Telling The Truth About RGBH Milk Hormone, Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly/Rense, April 1998
  29. Jury Overturned Verdict on Legal Technicality, BGH Bulletin, accessed January 2011
  30. Monsanto Key Executives, Yahoo Finance, accessed January 2011
  31. Who We Are: Company Leadership, accessed January 2011
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