Monday, December 22, 2008

More Monsanto

Hello again Monsantonians...I see you are still in my blog.

While you are at it (whatever it is that at it means when you work there) feel free to take the time to review, correct or comment as needed. I am starting to feel like we are old friends here.

All the info below was copied from
Wikipedia, for the benefit of people who never had the time to look you up & learn more about the wonderful work you do.


The 1940s saw Monsanto become a leading manufacturer of
plastics, including polystyrene, and synthetic fibers. Since then, it has remained one of the top 10 US chemical companies. Other major products have included the herbicides 2,4,5-T, DDT, and Agent Orange used primarily during the Vietnam War as a deforestation agent (and later proven to be highly carcinogenic to any who come into contact with the solution), aspartame (NutraSweet), bovine somatotropin (bovine growth hormone (BST), and PCBs. Also in this decade, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratory in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission.

Monsanto began manufacturing DDT in 1944, along with some 15 other companies. The use of DDT in the U.S. was banned by Congress in 1972, due in large efforts to
environmentalists, who persisted in the challenge put forth by Rachel Carson and her book, Silent Spring in 1962, which sought to inform the public of the side effects associated with the insecticide. In 1947, an accidental explosion of ammonium nitrate fertilizer loaded on the French ship S.S. Grandcamp destroyed an adjacent Monsanto styrene manufacturing plant, along with much of the port at Galveston Bay. The explosion, known as the Texas City Disaster, is considered the largest industrial accident in US history, with the highest death toll. As the decade ended, Monsanto acquired American Viscose from England's Courtauld family in 1949.

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.

Throughout 2004 and 2005, Monsanto filed lawsuits against many farmers in Canada and the U.S. The lawsuits have been on the grounds of
patent infringement, specifically the farmer's sale of seed containing Monsanto's patented genes–which require the farmer initial purchase of the seed and its technology–unknowingly sown by wind carrying the seeds from neighboring crops.

These instances began in the mid to late 1990s, with one of the most significant cases being decided in Monsanto's favor by the
Canadian Supreme Court. By a 5-4 vote in late May 2004, that court ruled that "by cultivating a plant containing the patented gene and composed of the patented cells without license, the appellants (canola farmer Percy Schmeiser) deprived the respondents of the full enjoyment of the patent." With this ruling, the Canadian courts followed the U.S. Supreme Court in its decision on patent issues involving plants and genes.

As of February 2005, Monsanto has patent claims on breeding techniques for pigs which would grant them ownership of any pigs born of such techniques and their related herds.
Greenpeace claims Monsanto is trying to claim ownership on ordinary breeding techniques. Monsanto claims that the patent is a defensive measure to track animals from its system. They furthermore claim their patented method uses a specialized insemination device that requires less sperm than is typical.

In 2006, the Public Patent Foundation filed requests with the
U.S. Patent Office to revoke four patents that Monsanto has used in patent lawsuits against farmers. In the first round of reexamination, claims in all four patents were rejected by the Patent Office in four separate rulings dating from February through July 2007. Monsanto has since filed responses in the reexaminations.


Monsanto has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as being a "potentially responsible party" for 56 contaminated sites (
Superfund sites) in the United States. Monsanto has been sued, and has settled, multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning.

In 2004 The Wildlife Habitat Council, (which has incidentally also given awards to nuclear power companies, waste management companies, steel manufacturers, and oil companies), and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Performance Track presented a special certificate of recognition to Monsanto Company during WHC's 16th Annual Symposium.

Monsanto is the largest producer of glyphosate
herbicides through its popular brand, Roundup. Roundup has been a source of ongoing controversy, as researchers in several studies have argued that it leads to the first stages of and/or causes cancer, while a review of the toxicity of roundup concluded that "under present and expected conditions of new use, there is no potential for Roundup herbicide to pose a health risk to humans".

Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications explained the company's regulatory philosophy to
Michael Pollan in 1998:

“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
FDA's job."

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