January 25, 2007
Monsanto is an American-owned international agro-chemical and foods conglomerate. It employs about 45,000 people and peddles over eight billion dollars a year in chemical products all over the world. While Monsanto has been critised for some time for their production of NutraSweet and the genetically engineered rBGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), the latest criticism is for it's moves into the world of GMOs (genetically manipulated organisams). They produce 'RoundUp Ready' soya beans that are genetically altered to be resistant to their chemical herbicide 'Roundup' (the biggest selling agro-chemical in the world with sales totalling more than $620 million a year), which provides 40% of the companies operating profit.
Take a look at the Monsanto corporate web site and you might be excused for mistaking Monsanto for a caring company with only our best interests at heart. In 'The Monsanto Pledge' (which includes the slogan 'We pledge to be part of the solution', the company lays down seven principles that describe the company's apparent vision for a sustainable environment. They pledge to:
- Reduce all toxic and hazardous releases and emissions, working toward an ultimate goal of zero effect;
- Ensure no Monsanto operation poses any undue risk to our employees and our communities;
- Work to achieve sustainable agriculture through new technology and practices
- Ensure groundwater safety;
- Keep our plants open to our communities and involve the community in plant operations;
- Manage all corporate real estate, including plant sites, to benefit nature; and
- Search worldwide for technology to reduce and eliminate waste from our operations, with the top priority being not making it in the first place.
The propaganda continues with Bob Shapiro, the CEO of Monsanto, declaring;
"We take our responsibilities to our customers, employees, shareowners and people of the world very seriously."
"..we're working very hard to make sure our products and manufacturing facilities are safe for the people who use them and for the environment we live in. "
"..we're trying to improve people's lives all over the world."
"What is important and valuable to you is important and valuable to us."
It all sounds very nobel but words are just words, and their record tells a different story...
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Monsanto, a major manufacturer of phenoxy herbicides, sponsored studies on workers that the company had exposed to dioxin, and these studies revealed no increased cancer deaths among these exposed workers. However, the studies have since been criticized by a report from the National Research Council, which says Monsanto's studies were "plagued with errors in classification of exposed and unexposed groups, according to some reports, and hence have been biased toward a finding of no effect." A 1990 analysis of Monsanto workers, conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported a statistically-significant increase in soft tissue arcomas.
As part of its multi-year scientific reassessment of dioxin, the American Environmental Protection Agency recently published a draft review of all scientific data linking dioxin to cancer and other health effects in humans. The EPA's draft document concludes that four separate studies of workers exposed to dioxin have revealed an "overall increased mortality from all malignancies combined." EPA speculates that dioxin's ability to mimic hormones gives dioxin the capacity to cause cancer in many different organs and bodily systems in humans.
There seems to be little room left for doubt: As the EPA's "scientific reassessment team" told then-chief of EPA, William Reilly, January 27, 1992: "Dioxin does cause cancer in humans."
Monsanto was sued on behalf of plaintiffs who say they were harmed when a Norfolk and Western railroad tank car derailed, spilling 19,000 gallons of a Monsanto chemical called "ocp-crude" into the community of Sturgeon, Missouri the night of January 10, 1979.
Monsanto's plant in Sauget, Illinois has over a dozen chemical dumps on it, according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL, several of them containing substantial quantities of cancer-causing PCBs, at concentrations as high as 74,000 parts per million (ppm), or 7.4 percent. For years, Monsanto's Sauget plant was the nation's largest single manufacturer of PCBs. Monsanto officials insist that the PCBs on their property do not necessarily belong to them. Anyone could have dumped PCBs there, they say. All told, there are more than one million tons of chemical wastes on Monsanto's property--chlorinated pesticides, PCBs and other chemicals that Monsanto manufactured on the site for decades. Monsanto insists the wastes did not necessarily come from their plant, located half a mile north of the dumps. It is company policy to destroy waste records after 4 years. Meanwhile the state of Illinois has spent 12 years and $1.3 million trying to get the Monsanto site listed on the federal Superfund. An estimated 13 tons of chemical wastes leach off the Monsanto site into the Mississippi River each year.
Monsanto has tried to intimidate farmers and retailers in the USA who label their milk products as rBGH-free (see below). The corporation has actually brought lawsuits against such farmers and, through a related organization, has sued the state of Vermont over its permissive attitude toward BGH labeling. This seems an obvious encroachement on the Americas' First Amendment and is no doubt outrageous, but the Department of Justice appears to do nothing to stop it.
Monsanto is part of the Chemical industry.
It is not only the specific practices of individual companies that cause problems. The attitudes created by the currrent system of exploitation gives power and profits to the few, at the expense of people, animals and the environment. It is important to expose the unethical practices of specific companies as their behaviour is often indicative of the entire system.
What's Wrong With Monsanto?
In the 1980s, Monsanto Corporation got a bad name for polluting every square foot of the planet with noxious PCBs, dioxin, and harmful pesticides. Now Monsanto is a leader in the biotech revolution that threatens to engineeer the genes of every food crop on the planet with potentially desasterous consequences for the environment.
In 1996 Monsanto introduced its RoundUp Ready soybean - which has been geneticallyaltered to be resistant to the chemical herbicide glyphosate which is marketed by Monsanto as Roundup. The inbuilt resistance allows farmers to use the herbicide while the crop is growing. Other altered crops likeky to be marketed include maize, wheat, sugar beet, letuce, potatoes and poplar.
Monsanto also owns 49.9 percent of Calgene, the maker of the Flavr Savr tomato engineered for longer shelf life.
Monsanto performs experiments on many thousand of animals each year. These tests are futile since not only are the results from animal testing inconclusive when directly related to humans, but Monsanto (like many other companies) has been known to manipulate the results to meet their requirements (as was the case with aspartame).
Monsanto's artificial bovine growth hormone BGH (Posilac) is designed to make cows produce more milk. Ingnoring the fact that no body needs more milk one of the problems with the use of the hormone is that it pushes the cow to the limits of production and causes illness such as Mastitis. In Monsanto's own words: "Use of Posilac has been associated with increases in cystic ovaries and disorders of the uterus...digestive disorders...enlarged hocks and lesions (lacerations, enlargements, calluses) of the knee..." On March 1993 the Veterinary Medicine Advisory Committee of the FDA unanimously agreed with the Monsanto conclusion that "Cows injected with Posilac are at an increased risk for clinical mastitis." If you drink milk you will be pleased to know that this disease is treatment with high levels of antibiotics which no doubt find their way into the milk supply. Since the intriduction of BGH in the USA, reports of serious health and reproductive problems among U.S. cows have increased significantly.
Since April 1995, the U.S. FDA has reported over 10,000 volunteered consumer complaints stemming from NutraSweet (aka Equal , Aspartame). Among the symptoms listed are blindness seizures, memory loss, loss of limb control, slurred speech, skin lesions, extremity numbness, depression, mood swings, anxiety attacks, coma and death.
Absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream it metabolizes into six to eight byproducts including methyl alcohol and the class A carcinogen, formaldehyde. The early research history of aspartame was plagued with deception. Although the US FDA gave the product approval, it later emerged that the results of animal experiments conducted when researching the chemical, had been manipulated to improve them.
Monsanto's herbicide Butachlor, marketed in foreign countries such as Machete and Lambast, has never been permanently approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Adverse effects of the chemical include weight loss, weight changes in internal organs, reduced brain size together with lesions. Multinational Monitor reports that Butachlor can be found in the U.S. food supply. It's used in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Venezuela. This implies that the majority of rice imports could contain it.
Monsanto owns the drug company, G.D. Searle - producers of;
Demulen, an oral contraceptive, is an oestrogenic compound. Environmental scientists are linking oestrogenic pollutants to breast cancer.
Flagyl, an oral synthetic antiprotozoal and antibacterial, can cause convulsive seizures,peripheral neuropathy, a significant lessening of white blood corpuscles, and can make candida infections worse.
Kerlone for "management of hypertension" can contribute to cardiac failure.
Lomotil, the anti-diarrhea drug, has a number of adverse effects including tachycardia, vomiting, depression, numbness of extremities and pancreatitis.
Opposition and Campaigns
Campaigns and resistance:
• Family farm Defenders, P.O. Box 581, Hillsboro, Wisconsin, 54634, for BGH
• Pure Dairy Commission, RR 2, Box 191, New Auburn WI 54757. for BGH
• Betty Martini, 5940 Brookgreen Road, N.E., Atlanta, Georgia 30328, for NutraSweet
Further information: http://www.envirolink.orgs/orgs/shag/ - Super Heroes Against Genetix (action site with good links) http://www.envirolink.org/arrs/AnimaLife/spring95/BGH.html - Background information http://www.envirolink.org/arrs/essays/posilac.html - Cancer threat http://www.monitor.net/rachel/r381.html - Milk, rBGH, and Biotechnology
Outside links and further information
• From RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH WEEKLY
• Monsanto and it's public image - #504
• Aspartame and brain cancer - #520
• Dioxins and cancer. How Monsanto hid the truth - #494, #400, #353, #171
• Genetic engineering, particularly rBGH - #521, #483, #454, #384, #383, #382, #381
• PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) - #329, #327, #295, #144
• Monsantos toxic dumps - #358, #357
• Multinational Monitor
• Monsanto pushes pesticides
Products and brandnames:
• NutraSweet, Equal, BGH (aka rBGH, rBST, Posilac), Simplese (an artificial butter fat),
• Simple Pleasures Frozen Dairy Desserts, Salad Dressing and Moyonnaise;
• the artificial fibers Astroturf and Wear Dated Carpets;
• the home insulation foam sheeting called Fome-Cor;
• the garden herbicides Roundup and Dimension;
• agricultural chemicals: Lasso, Harness Plus, Far Go, Avauer, Machete, Bronco, Bullet,
• Cropstar GB, Freedom, Landmaster BW, Micro-Tech Partner, Ram Rod, Accord, Buckle,
• Fallow Master, Lariat, Rodeo;
• the feed supplement and preservative Alimet;
• the Flavr Savr tomato.
800 N. Lindbergh Blvd
Web site(s): MONSANTO.COM
Email address(es): email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Credits: Most of the information on this page was taken from
Jon Rappoports 'Revolt Against the Empire' and Rachels's Environment & Health Weekly