Monsanto is often referred to as “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”. From hearing a little bit about its actions in the Food Inc documentary I wanted to learn more about their harm to society and our environment. Why is this such a terrible corporation, what is its history, and how should this change to better suit a sustainable future?
There was far too much information to focus on the entire history of Monsanto and their crimes to society. Founded in 1901, Monsanto was originally a chemical company that had a significant hand in many harmful projects such as involvement in the Manhattan Project’s formation of the first atomic bomb, as well as the mass production of the toxic PCBs. Monsanto was the nation’s largest producer of PCBs, producing nearly 99% of the PCBs used in industry. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) are used most commonly for coolants in electrical apparatuses. These chemicals were deemed incredibly toxic to human beings and even more so to the environment. The impact that they had was significant enough to have them banned by the US congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2011. Their biggest scandal that resulted from their PCB production was the environmental damage done to the town of Anniston, Alabama, the location of one of heir largest plants. Monsanto was knowingly discharging both mercury and PCB waste into local water sources for over 40 years. There were many documents found in the investigation that were marked highly confidential and to be destroyed after use. It was proven that Monsanto knew of these pollutants and the effects that they would have on the surroundings.
Monsanto eventually transitioned into an agricultural company, its largest selling product being the herbicide “Roundup”. This product was a highly effective herbicide but also had many environmental and human hazards associated with its use. Monsanto then created Roundup Ready crops in order to address this problem which contained problems of its own. These crops had been genetically engineered to allow the application of Roundup to the crop directly without killing the crops. Monsanto produces over 90% of the nation’s GMOs and most of which are deemed Roundup Ready. This product is still viewed as very harmful in its use.
Another controversy from Monsanto’s agricultural industry is their use of Terminator Technology. This is the concept that their seeds will become sterile after the first year’s planting and thus forces farmers to repurchase seeds from Monsanto annually. Traditionally in the agricultural industry, you can reuse the seeds that result from your best crop the next season which is a highly sustainable practice but this process prevents that cycle.
There is much more information about Monsanto’s government involvement and their campaigns against organic agriculture which make it an “evil corporation”. With so much information to choose from, I will be focusing on their more recent agricultural years. I find it very interesting that they pose themselves as an environmental company on their website, boasting about their sustainable practices. In my research for my paper I will uncover the truth of their unsustainable past and likely future.