Monsanto: “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”


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.

The World According to Monsanto

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8 responses to “Monsanto: “The World’s Most Evil Corporation”

  1. This is a complete coincidence, but I happened to be browsing around on Advertising Age and saw a TV spot from Monsanto (http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7sBW/monsanto-dinners-ready). The ad is basically a mashup of a series of family dinners with a voiceover about Monsanto’s commitment to their farmers, consumers, and the environment. Based on what we discussed in class and saw in “Food, Inc.,” the image they’re marketing is a stark contradiction to their real actions. Out of curiosity, I also checked out their website and was struck by all the environmental and sustainability-themed imagery and rhetoric. They even said “We strive to make our products available to farmers throughout the world by broadly licensing our seed and trait technologies to other companies,” which is odd considering what we learned about their seed licensing “trap.” It made me wonder, have they reformed their ways since receiving such negative attention from “Food, Inc.,” or is this all just a marketing scheme that completely obscures the truth? I’ll look forward to reading your analysis of their more recent years to see which is the case.

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    • By no means do I mean to tell you that Monsanto is an angel; however, their efforts towards sustainability are true. Contrary to the current public opinion, GMOs were designed to lower the environmental impact of agriculture. Do some quick research into the environmental impacts of organic farming and you will be very surprised by what you find. Organic farmers have to use 1.5 times the amount of land that conventional farmers use to reach the same yield. The ratio is even higher when compared to GMO farmers. At the current moment all arable land (land that can grow food) is already in use, which is 1/3 of all the land on earth. 80% of the worlds current deforestation is contributed to increase in agricultural land. The loss of soil through erosion is also due to organic farming. While GMO farmers use a no-till system, organic farmers still till their land before planting crops. This leads to incredibly fast erosion of land causing huge negative environmental impacts. Also, soil tillage from organic farmers highly contributes to the run off of nitrogen into the watershed which is causing the dead zone in the gulf of mexico. Organic activist rage about Monsanto’s Bt crops which contain a cell signaling agent (a small protein) specific to insects which paralyzes them. The origin of the gene for the cell signaling agent is a strand of bacteria. What the activists don’t know is that organic farmers dump unregulated amounts of this bacteria on their crops in order for the bacteria to secrete the protein onto their crops. This is considered an organic practice. The bacteria began growing beyond the farm and causing insect populations in the wild to decline. When scientist took the gene and inserted it into the plant they restricted the protein to stay within the plant, trapping it in one location and saving the insect populations.

      Yes, Monsanto has made many shady business deals and their actions do raise concern; however, their dedication to providing environmentally safe options for agriculture is not a false marketing ploy. Hate them for their shady business if you would like, but don’t buy into the media driven idea that they only want to destroy the earth and make money from the process.

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  2. I actually wanted to do Monsanto before you chose it, but I think my perspective would be quite a bit different. Monsanto has developed alongside American society. They produced powerful herbicides including agent orange during Vietnam, but their focus was always providing what they viewed as useful for the development of America. While they receive very poor reviews for their legal actions and their failure to account for the needs they have created, they have also managed to massively increase food production. Their development of GMO’s such as pest resistant potatoes, roundup ready corn, rice, and soybeans, and golden rice has contributed to global health and development much more than they receive credit for. While information about their treatment of farmers is readily available, information about the massive number of people they have played a role in feeding may be much harder to quantify.

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    • I want to know who labels them the “most evil”? What kind of criteria would one use? And, while their actions may be questionable, at some level, is that labeling also of use to the organizations and activists who label them as such. No one is purely “altruistic” in my mind. Even activists have agendas and strategies, even if I agree with them.

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