In this paper, I will detail the methods by which the Monsanto corporation has destroyed livelihoods, caused severe damage to the world’s agricultural ecosystems and the new ways they continue to build (or attempt to build) their monopoly on the world’s food. I will begin with a historical analysis of the company’s various products from their past that have become the most controversial, namely the pesticide DDT and the tactical herbicideAgent Orange. In I will then examine Monsanto’s controversial actions in the present day in the area of biopiracy, the process by which Monsanto develops a monopoly on seed crops and essentially forces farmers to pay to grow their seeds.
From its inception, Monsanto has been steeped in the corporate culture. Founder John Francis Queeney was a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry and used capital from a soft drink company as well as his own funds in the founding of the company. Queeney bestowed his wife’s maiden name upon the company--perhaps at the behest of his father in law-- who was Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto, a wealthy Puerto Rican sugar financier. Monsanto even started synthetic: The company’s first product was saccharin, an artificial sweetener.
In 1944, Monsanto became one of the leading manufacturers of DDT, a pesticide that, at the time was being lauded around the world for its ability to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Its discovery as a pesticide even won the chemist responsible the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1948. DDT was used widely around the world until the 1960s and 70s, notably after Rachael Carson’s environmental catalyst novel exposed DDT as a chemical that while not causing a great deal of immediate harm to mammalian creatures, caused an incredible amount ...
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