Monsanto Company Profile

Monsanto is one of the most powerful companies attempting to shape the future of agriculture and the global food chain. It is by far the biggest seller of GM crops in the world and has been the most prominent and controversial corporation promoting the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture. The company also has a long and messy history of manufacturing hazardous chemicals, with products including chemical warfare agents (Agent Orange), industrial materials (PCBs), food additives (NutraSweet), agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.

You can find our 2005 Company Profile below.

Click here for details of their latest profits and other financial results from the Bloomberg website.

There is also lots of useful information on Monsanto’s website:

  • Click here for details of Monsanto’s head office and where the company does business around the world.

  • Click here to find out what products Monsanto is currently selling.

  • Click here to find out who Monsanto‘s directors and board members are.

  • Click here to download Monsanto’s latest annual report and accounts.

For a more critical perspective on their work, try Source Watch’s profile, the Food Democracy Now! website or the Millions Against Monsanto campaign.

If you want to do some digging into Monsanto yourself, have a look at our Investigating Companies: A Do-It-Yourself Handbook.

If you would like your website added to this list, or have any other links or suggestions for this page, please get in touch.

Monsanto: Overview

“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain”[1].

 

Industry Areas

GM crops, agro-chemicals, Bovine Growth Hormone.

 

Market share/importance

Monsanto have a vision of a future with ‘Abundant Food and a Healthy Environment’ [2], however, their vision of how to achieve this may differ from yours. Monsanto is one of the most powerful companies attempting to shape the future of agriculture and take control of the global food chain. They are by far the biggest seller of GM crops in the world. Their products account for 80% of the total area of global farmland planted with GM crops in 1999. Monsanto are also the second largest seed company in the world with global sales of $1,700 million [3]. RoundUp, manufactured by Monsanto, is the world’s biggest selling herbicide.

History [4]

Monsanto has been by far the most prominent and controversial corporation promoting the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture. The company has a long and messy history of manufacturing hazardous chemicals. Their products have included chemical warfare agents (Agent Orange), industrial materials (PCBs), food additives (NutraSweet), agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals. Monsanto was the first major agrochemical and pharmaceutical company to pursue the ‘life sciences’ concept. During the 1990s it shed many of its chemical concerns and embarked on a spending spree investing heavily in biotechnology research, and spending nearly $10 billion world wide acquiring seed companies. In the late 1990s Monsanto was the first company to widely market first generation GM crops. This was accompanied by an aggressive public relations campaign aimed at persuading a concerned public that GM crops were a safe and desirable innovation. The campaign backfired, resulting in Monsanto becoming the primary focus of a rapidly growing global resistance to GM crops (to a large extent drawing attention away from the likes of Aventis (Agrevo) and Syngenta (Novartis/AstraZeneca) who were quietly getting on with introducing similar products). By late 1998 a combination of Monsanto’s status as an international bogeyman, and a need for returns on their extensive investments resulted in a loss in market confidence in the company and their share price plummeted. Stability was regained through a merger with pharmaceutical giant Pharmacia/UpJohn in April 2000. As a result of this merger the combined company, known as Pharmacia, has taken over Monsanto’s pharmaceutical wing Searle. The infamous agrochemical and biotechnology division, still known as Monsanto, has been spun off as a nominally separate company with Pharmacia retaining an 85% share.

 

References:

[1] Fraley R. (co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector) 1996, in the Farm Journal. Quoted in: Flint J. (1998) Agricultural industry giants moving towards genetic monopolism. Telepolis, Heise Online, www01.ix.de/tp/english/inhalt/co/2385/1.html

[2] www.monsanto.com

[3] all 1999 figures sourced from RAFI reports ‘Speed Bump or Blow Out For GM Seed’ and ‘Seed Industry Giants: Who Owns Whom?’ available online at www.rafi.org

[4] The information in the above section is predominantly sourced from ‘Feeding the Hungry Transnationals’ and the ASEED Europe Monsanto Briefing available online at www.groundup.org/fwho.htm

Monsanto: Products and Projects

Herbicide tolerant crops Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready (herbicide tolerant) crops are the most widely used GM crops in the world. RoundUp Ready crops include maize, soya, canola (oil seed rape), cotton and sugar beet. Pipeline RoundUp Ready food crops include rice, wheat and potatoes. Beyond food crops, Monsanto has forged alliances with forestry companies to develop GM RoundUp Ready (herbicide-tolerant) trees.

Bromoxynil tolerant cotton has been marketed by Monsanto’s Calgene subsidiary. Another Monsanto subsidiary DeKalb have marketed a Phosphinothricin (glufosinate ammonium) herbicide tolerant maize.

Insect Resistant Crops Monsanto have engineered a range of insect resistant crops. These crops include Bollgard Cotton, Bollgard with Roundup Ready Cotton, Ingard Cotton, NewLeaf Potatoes and YieldGard Insect Protected Corn. Calgene have marketed a GM cotton with both Bt insect resistance and Bromoxynil herbicide resistance. DeKalb have marketed a Bt insect resistant maize.

Pipeline Monsanto insect resistant crops include rootworm-protected maize, insect-protected tomatoes, and boll weevil-protected cotton. There will also be a second generation of Bollgard insect protected cotton where the mode of action of these cotton plants will be different than that currently used (i.e. not using the Bt. toxin).

Other GM Crops Monsanto have produced a tomato with altered ripening characteristics . A similar product, the FlavrSavr tomato, has also been marketed by Monsanto’s Calgene subsidiary. Calgene have also produced an oil-seed rape with altered fatty acid properties. A further Monsanto subsidiary, Asgrow, have marketed a multi-virus resistant squash.

Pipeline Monsanto disease resistant crops include maize resistant to fungal and viral diseases, potatoes resistant to fungal diseases, wheat resistant to fungal and viral diseases and virus protected tomatoes

Monsanto are also developing a range of crops with altered nutrient value including altering the oil composition of oilseed rape and soybeans, altering soybean protein for use as meat substitutes, altering potatoes to reduced discolouration from bruising for commercial storage and also for lower moisture content thus absorbing less oil during cooking

UK GM Crop Trails Monsanto GM crops currently under going field trials in the UK include RoundUp Ready oilseed rape and sugar/fodder beet [6].

Bovine Growth Hormone Monsanto also market Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH or BST) called Posilac. Posilac is a genetically engineered growth hormone injected into cows to increase their milk production

Agricultural Chemicals Monsanto also markets a number of agricultural chemicals. The best known of these products is RoundUp, a glyphosate based broad spectrum herbicide.

Functional Foods Monsanto is likely to be one of the key players in the introduction of the second generation of GM crops, so called functional foods, engineered to have beneficial output traits. [7]


References [5] (unless otherwise stated information in this section is sourced from ‘Feeding the Hungry Transnationals’ and the Genewatch online database www.genewatch.org, itself based on information from OECD database of commercialised GM crops available on line at www.olis.oecd.org/bioprod.nsf. and Monsanto annual reports available online at http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/NYS/MON/reports/Monsanto_2000_Report.pdf [6] For further details of Monsanto UK crop trials go to www.gm-info.org.uk and www.genewatch.org/UKtrials.htm. For full details of GM crops developed by Monsanto go to www.genewatch.org/Genesrch/Default.htm and type ‘Monsanto’ into the company/subsidiary search box.

[7] www.gm-info.org.uk/gm-info/briefings/funcfoods.html

Monsanto: Who, Where, How Much?

Company Structure/Ownership

 

Monsanto are 85% owned by Pharmacia (a merger between Pharmacia/Upjohn and Monsanto). In the UK Monsanto are represented by four companies, Monsanto UK Limited, Monsanto PLC, Monsanto UK Services Company and Monsanto UK Holding Company.

 

Pharmacia (Majority share holder) Pharmacia Corporation

 

100Route 206,

North Peapack,

New Jersey 07977

USA

Tel (001) 908-901-8000

Freephone (001) 888-768-5501

www.pnu.com

 

Monsanto Company (US parent group) Monsanto Company

 

Creve Coeur Campus

800 North Lindbergh

St Louis

Missouri 63167

USA

www.monsanto.com/ www.farmsource.com

 

Share Value Current share prices for Monsanto Company can be found at http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MON

 

Shareholder Information Monsanto Company are 85% owned by Pharmacia Corporation [8].

 

Annual Turnover Monsanto’s Net sales for 2000 were $5.5 billion [9].

 

Board Of Directors [10]

 

Chairman of the Board Frank V. AtLee III (60)

Retired president of American Cyanamid Company and former president of Cyanamid International.

President and Chief Executive Officer Hendrik A. Verfaillie (55)

Involved with the old pre merger Monsanto Company since 1976. Director of the old Monsanto since 1999.

Director Hakan Astrom (53)

Senior vice president, strategy and corporate affairs of Pharmacia Corporation.

Director Christopher J. Coughlin (48)

Executive vice president and chief financial officer of Pharmacia Corporation. Formerly president of Nabisco International.

Director Michael (Mickey) Kantor (61)

Formerly US secretary of commerce (1996-1997) and US trade representative (1993-1996). National Chairman for the Clinton/Gore presidential campaign (1992). Currently a partner in international law firm Mayer, Brown Platt and Kantor. Also a director of Pharmacia International.

Director Gwendolyn S. King (60)

President of Podium Prose, speaker’s bureau and speechwriting service. Formerly senior vice president of PECO Energy Company (1992-1998), Commissioner Social Security Administration (1989-1992). Director of Lockheed Martin Corporation and Marsh and McLennan Companies Inc.

Director C. Steven McMillan (55)

President and chief executive officer of Sara Lee Corporation (packaged goods company, brands include Sara Lee, Douwe Egberts, Hillshire Farm, Hanes and Playtex). Formerly president, chief operating officer and executive vice president Sara Lee Corporation (1997-2000). Director Sara Lee Corporation, Pharmacia Corporation and Dynegy Inc.

Director William Parfet (54)

Chairman and chief executive officer of MPI Research Inc (preclinical toxicology and clinical pharmaceutical testing laboratory. Formerly president and chief executive officer of Richard Allan Medical Industries (1993-1996). Also a director of Pharmacia Corporation, CMS Energy Corporation, Stryker Corporation and Sybron International.

Director John S. Reed (62)

Retired chairman of Citigroup Inc (commercial bank and financial services company) (1998-2000). Chairman and chief executive officer Citicorp and Citibank (1984-1998). Also a director of Philip Morris Companies Inc, and a Member of The Business Council.

 

Monsanto UK Limited [11]

 

Monsanto UK Limited are the public face of Monsanto in the UK.

Registered offices recorded with Companies House Monsanto UK Limited Company No.04042051 Date incorporated: 27,07,2000

The Maris Centre

45 Hauxton Road

Trumpington

Cambridge

CB2 5HJ

Corporate and public affairs office Monsanto UK Limited

London, W1S 4JW

England

0207 495 8455

Research and Development Monsanto UK Limited (PBI)/ Monsanto Cambridge

Cambridge, CB2 2LQ

England

01223 849200

Board of Directors for Monsanto UK Limited [12]

Company Secretary and Director: Colin Gerald Elwell

Director Kenneth Matthew Barker

Director Marc Rene Louisa de Smedt

Director Luc Eduard Maria Leunis

Director Kevin Walsh

Director: Stephen Michael Wildridge,

Shareholders for Monsanto UK Ltd 100 shares issued, all owned by Monsanto Company (US)

 

Monsanto PLC [13]

 

Monsanto PLC are much harder to get to grips with than Monsanto UK Ltd. The only source of information on them that Corporate Watch has accessed is their annual return at Companies House which lists them as manufacturers of basic Pharmaceutical products, fertilisers, nitrogen compounds and other chemical products.

Registered offices recorded with Companies House Monsanto PLC Company No.3326109 Date incorporated: 28/02/1997

PO Box 53

Lane End Road

High Wycombe

Buckinghamshire

HP12 4HL

Board of Directors for Monsanto PLC [14]

Company Secretary and Director: Philip Greenhalgh

Director John Graham Lee

Shareholders for Monsanto PLC [15] 7081424 shares issued

4 shares owned by Pharmacia Corporation

7081420 shares owned by Monsanto UK Holding Company (current ownership of these shares is uncertain as Monsanto UK Holding Company have been in voluntary liquidation since 25/04/01)

Monsanto UK Services Company [16] Again Monsanto UK Services Company are hard to get any information on. The only source of information on them that Corporate Watch has accessed is their annual return at Companies House which lists them as dealing with ‘other financial intermediation’.

Registered offices recorded with Companies House Monsanto UK Services Company Company No.3107476 Date incorporated: 22/09/1995

PO Box 53

Lane End Road

High Wycombe

Buckinghamshire

HP12 4HL

Board of Directors for Monsanto UK Services Company Company Secretary and Director:

Philip Greenhalgh

Director Colin Gerald Elwell

Director Guy Antoine Marie Kersch

Director John Graham Lee

Shareholders for Monsanto UK Services Company 5000 shares issued

500 shares owned by Monsanto Columbia

4500 shares owned by Pharmacia Corporation

Monsanto UK Holding Company [17] Monsanto UK Holding Company is in voluntary liquidation as of 25/04/01

Registered offices recorded with Companies House Monsanto UK Holding Company Company No.3326109 Date incorporated: 28/02/1997

C/O KPMG

Aquis Court,

31 Fishpool Street,

St Albans,

Hertfordshire

AL3 4RF

Monsanto Europe Monsanto’s European Headquarters are in Brussels

Monsanto Europe/Services International Avenue de Tervuren 270-272

Brussels, Belgium 1150

Phone: 32-2-776-4111

Back to top

 

Subsidiaries

 

Unless otherwise stated the following companies have either been bought out and subsumed by Monsanto Company or are wholly owned subsidiaries of Monsanto Company. [18]

Agracetus www.agracetus.com US based genomics and biotechnology company, held broad patents on a range of major crops including GM soya and cotton.

Asgrow www.asgrow.com Acquired by Monsanto in 1997 [19]. US seed production and marketing company specialising in research into soya, maize and sorghum. Acquired to develop sales of Monsanto’s seeds especially Roundup Ready soybeans

Calgene Acquired by Monsanto in 1997 [20]. US based biotechnology company, conducting research into GM coloured, herbicide tolerant and insect resistant cotton, GM high lauric acid oil seed rape and GM flavour/ shelf life improved tomatoes and strawberries. Marketed the failed Flavr Savr Tomato.

Cargill’s International Seed Division In 1998 Monsanto acquires Cargill’s international seed operations in central and south America, Asia, Africa and Europe (excluding the UK) [21]. Markets maize, sunflower, rapeseed, soya, alfalfa, sorghum, wheat and rice seed. Monsanto paid US$1.4 billion for Cargill seeds as part of its strategy to quickly spread the use of its GM seed worldwide.

DeKalb Genetics www.dekalb.com A US based plant genetics company acquired for US$ 2.3 billion. in 1998 [22]. 2nd largest seed company in the US and 2nd largest maize seed company in the world.

First Line Seed www.soybeans.com Acquired by Monsanto in 1998 [23]. US company mainly selling soybeans. Produces Roundup Ready varieties. Main co-operative partnership is with Asgrow. Monsanto Canada owns a major equity stake in First Line Seed.

EID Parry An Indian cotton seed producer [24].

Holden’s Foundation Seeds Acquired by Monsanto in 1997 for US$1 billion [25]. A maize genetics business that claims a third of the US seed corn market.

MAHYCO www.mahyco.com India’s largest private seed company which enjoys 9% of India’s national seed market and has substantial market shares throughout South Asia. Monsanto India owns 26% of Mahyco. There is a joint venture between Monsanto and Mahyco (50/50) called Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB). This company is attempting to commercially launch Bollgard cotton in India.

Monsoy Acquired in 1996 [26]. The largest soybean suppliers in Brazil.

Plant Breeding International Cambridge Limited A UK based plant breeding and research institute originally publicly owned and then owned by Unilever prior to its purchase by Monsanto in 1998 [27]. Owns a vast collection of grass species and varieties, with numerous breeding programmes including potatoes, barley, winter wheat and oil seed rape.

Sementes Agroceres Acquired by Monsanto in 1997 [28]. A Brazilian seed company with a 30% share in the Brazilian maize seed market.

 

Joint Ventures

 

Renessen LLC www.renessen.com A 50/50 joint venture between Monsanto and Cargill [29] to manufacture and distribute second generation ‘functional food’ GM crops. The venture with Cargill bringing together Cargill’s global marketing, processing and risk management empire and Monsanto’s expertise in developing GM crops. Renessen LLC will initially develop and market GM products for the grain processing and animal feed markets, including GM maize, soybeans and wheat products with altered nutritional properties for use in animal feed. Other GM products in the pipeline are oil seeds and wheat varieties with altered processing properties.

ConAgra www.conagra.com/basic_foods.jsp An international grain dealer and food processor. Monsanto made agreements with them in June 1999 to segregate and ship GM grain to countries which will accept these crops. This was set up in response to the anti-GM political situation in the EU.

Monsanto has two GM forestry projects. (information from Feeding the Hungry Transnationals)

Announced in 1999 this $60million R&D project over 5 years is with the US based companies – International Paper www.internationalpaper.com, Westvaco www.westvaco.com Fletcher Challenge Forests www.fcf.co.nz and Genesis Research and Development. Focusing on eucalyptus, poplar, pine and sweetgum species the venture hopes to develop traits such as herbicide tolerance, higher growth rates and a more uniform fibre quality. All these developments mainly focus around the paper industry.

Established in 1996 Monfori Nusantra is a venture being carried out with ForBio an Australian plant Biotechnology company. They are trialing fast growing trees such as teak, acacia, mangium and eucalyptus, to be used in the pulp/paper industry. The trials are taking place in Indonesia.

 

Monsanto and water

 

Prior to the merger with Pharmacia, Monsanto was making plans to launch a new water business, starting in India and Mexico since both these countries are facing water shortages. It is uncertain whether this business is being pursued by the new Monsanto. As part of its efforts to enter the water business, Monsanto has stake in WaterHealth International (WHI) with an option to buy the rest of the business. WaterHealth International has a patent on a water purification technology that uses UV light to kill practically all water-borne bacteria and viruses [30].


References [8] www.monsanto.co.uk/monsantouk/monsantouk.html [9] www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker=MON&script=700&layout=7 [10] information from Monsanto Annual Report 2000 available online at www.corporate-ir.net/ireye/ir_site.zhtml?ticker=MON&script=700&layout=7 information accurate on 1/3/2001

[11] Information from Companies House and www.monsanto.co.uk/ [12] Information from Companies House, Monsanto UK Ltd Annual Return, 11/07/01

[13] Information from Companies House annual return 02/02/01

[14] Information from Companies House, Monsanto PLC Annual Return, 02/02/01

[15] Information from Companies House, Monsanto PLC Annual Return, 02/02/01

[16] Information from Companies House, annual return 21/08/01

[17] Information from Companies House, Monsanto UK Holding Company List of Current Appointments 17/09/01

[18] Information from Feeding the Hungry Multinationals and www.monsanto.com/monsanto/about_us/company_timeline/index6.html [19] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/97/97dec10_agreement.html [20] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/97/97apr1_calgene.html [21] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/98/98jun29_Cargill.html [22] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/98/98dec7_Dekalb.html [23] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/98/98jun1_Firstline.html [24] www.transnationale.org/anglais/fiches/194938047.htm [25] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/97/97jan6_corn.html [26] www.monsanto.com.br/agricultura/semente/soja/monsoy/tefranquia.htm [27] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/98/98jul15_PBIC.html [28] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/97/97nov24_brazilian.html [29] www.monsanto.com/monsanto/media/98/98may14_cargill.html [30] For further information www.afd-online.org/wto/monsanto-monopoly-seeds2water.htm

Monsanto: Influence / Lobbying

Monsanto have aggressively promoted their products through PR campaigns, industry lobby groups, funding academic research and directly influencing government policy. A recent Monsanto internal document leaked to GeneWatch UK revealed Monsanto’s global strategy to promote GM foods. They are actively influencing which experts get on to international scientific committees and are promoting their views through supposedly independent scientists. The report suggests that they have virtually given up trying to influence the debate on GM foods in the UK and are stepping up their activity in developing countries [31].

 

Lobbying Groups

 

Monsanto is a member of several UK and European industry lobby groups, including:

Crop Protection Association (formerly the British Agrochemicals Association): an agrochemical and biotech trade association, one of the organisations that make up SCIMAC, the industry body established in June 1998 to support the “responsible and effective introduction of GM crops in the UK”. This includes running GM farm scale trials in conjunction with the Department of the Environment Transport and Regions (DETR). (www.baa.org.uk/Default.asp), (www.ukasta.org.uk/news/scimac/)

Europabio (European Association for Bioindustries): A European pro biotech lobby group which encourages the EU and national governments to develop policies that are supportive of biotechnology (www.europabio.org/)

 

Influencing research and education

 

PBI/Monsanto employee Dr R Stratford sits on the Plant and Microbial Sciences Committee of the BBSRC (British Biotechnology Science Research Council) and Monsanto employee Dr K Hammond-Kossack sits on the Network Group of the BBSRC. The BBSRC administer funding for biotech research in British Universities [32].

In April 2001 140,000 copies of a pro-biotechnology booklet ‘Your World-Biotechnology and You’ were distributed in Scottish schools. The leaflet was produced by the US Biotechnology Institute who are part funded by Monsanto [33].

 

Links with government

 

There is a well documented ‘revolving door’ between Monsanto employees and officials from US Government regulatory bodies (particularly the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This has effectively enabled Monsanto to bypass the regulatory process and get marketing consent in the US for their GM and other products with minimal safety checks [34]. US influence has made it much harder for other counties to implement more rigorous regulatory standards. Monsanto have also had direct influence within the Clinton administration and continue to have with the Bush administration [35]. Monsanto employee Linda Fisher was nominated by Bush in May 2001 for a key position in the US Environmental Protection Agency [36]. Monsanto have used their close links with the US government to influence policy decisions in the UK, Europe and the EU. The revolving door between Monsanto and the UK government is less easy to demonstrate, however, there are several links between prominent advisors to the Labour government, Bell Pottinger Good Relations (a PR company employed by Monsanto) and Monsanto [37].

 

PR Companies

 

Monsanto have used several prominent public relations companies in an all out media assault to achieve public acceptance of their GM products. These companies include the infamous Burson Marsteller [38], Global Access Limited, Bivell Woodings Ltd, Bell Pottinger Good Relations UK, Focus Communications and Bartle Bogel Hegarty (UK). Monsanto’s UK greenwash campaign organised by Bartle Bogel Hegarty in 1998 backfired spectacularly. Monsanto were accused of being arrogant and spreading misinformation. After a barrage of complaints an enquiry by the Advertising Standards Agency found that Monsanto adverts had been wrong and misleading on 6 of the 13 counts filed against them [39].


References [31] For the full text of this report go to www.genewatch.org/Press%20Releases/pr15.htm [32] www.bbsrc.ac.uk/about/annrep/committees.html [33] www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/around_the_web2.html [34] see www.groundup.org/monsanto/door.htm and Feeding the Hungry Transnationals

[35] see Feeding the Hungry Transnationals

[36] www.connectotel.com/gmfood/re020501.txt [37] see chapter 3 in ‘Of Cabbages and Kings: A Cartoon Book on Genetic Engineering’ produced by A SEED Europe

[38] look at www.corporatewatch.org.uk/magazine/issue2/cw2f2.html and www.corporatewatch.org.uk/news/leeds_uni_bursonmarsteller.htmlfor more information

[39] www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3829135,00.html

Monsanto: Corporate Crimes

Monsanto have an impressive history of committing corporate crimes [40]. Recent Monsanto crimes include:

 

BST

 

BST or rBGH marketed by Monsanto as Posilac is a genetically engineered hormone designed to make cows produce more milk. Large amounts of research indicate that BST use has serious implications for the health and welfare of dairy cattle, including making cows more prone to mastitis and sores [41].

Because of evidence that BST milk may cause breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer in humans, it is banned in Europe. Monsanto is trying to overturn the ban [42].

 

Contaminating our food with GM crops

 

As the market leaders in GM crops it is Monsanto who have been largely responsible for contaminating the global food chain with GM crops. The long term health effects of eating GM crops are as yet unknown.

 

Contaminating our environment with GM crops

 

The long term effects of Monsanto’s GM crops on the environment are as yet unknown. In areas where RoundUp Ready crops are being grown commercially, herbicide tolerance is being spread to neighbouring crops and wild plants by cross pollination. Rather than reducing the amount of chemicals used in farming RoundUp Ready crops are locking farmers into a chemical dependant farming system [43].

Several scientific studies have suggested that the Bt technology utilised by Monsanto in their Bollgard, YieldGard and NewLeaf insect resistant crops may kill ‘non-pest’ insects such as the Monarch butterfly [44].

 

Developing world

 

Having encountered increasing opposition to GM technology in the developed global north, Monsanto have put more energy into pushing their products in the developing global south. An example of this being the attempt by Monsanto/Mahyco to rush their Bt insect resistant cotton through the Indian government’s regulatory process and on to the market. The decision on allowing commercial growing of Bt cotton was postponed for a year in the face massive opposition from Indian farmers and NGOs all over the world [45].

 

Terminator Technology

 

Monsanto holds a patent for ‘terminator’ technology. Terminator technology involves the genetically engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds thus forcing farmers to buy new seed every year, rather than saving their own seed from year to year. Monsanto has said it will not use this technology but still holds the patents and may use it in future [46].

 

Corporate Bully Boys

 

Monsanto don’t like the thought of anyone publicly disagreeing with them or worse still pulling a fast one on them. Where their GM crops are being grown commercially Monsanto have paid a small army of private investigators to check whether farmers are growing their GM crops without permission. Monsanto have successfully sued a Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser for supposedly planting GM oil seed rape without a license agreement. Percy claims that he has never planted GM crops on his land and that any GM crops on his land are a result of cross pollination from GM crops grown on neighbouring farms. He is launching a counter suit against Monsanto [47].

In 1997 2 TV journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre who had been making a documentary on the dangers of Monsanto’s BST were fired by their employers Fox TV. Fox TV had come under pressure from Monsanto to change the content of the documentary, when Wilson and Akre refused to be muzzled they were sacked [48].

In 1998 Monsanto took out a wide ranging SLAPP (Stategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against activists from Genetix Snowball. At the time Genetix Snowball were engaged in a campaign of accountable, non-violent direct action against GM crops. The injunction was designed to intimidate members of the public into not taking direct action against Monsanto’s UK GM field trials [49].

In 1998 the environmental journal the Ecologist was due to publish a special edition attacking Monsanto. However, the Ecologist’s printers – Penwells of Saltash, Cornwall, destroyed the 14,000 print run without notice fearing liable action from Monsanto [50].

 

Climate Change Co-option

 

Monsanto have seen the potential for new markets for their GM products within the mechanisms of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change [51]. Since 1998 Monsanto has been one of the principle corporations attempting to hijack the UN climate change negotiations for its own ends. Monsanto claims that its products offer high tech solutions in the battle to reduce CO2 emissions. Monsanto hopes to gain carbon credits in two ways.

1. Monsanto claims that wide spread use of RoundUp Ready crops will reduce the need for ploughing thus keeping large quantities of CO2 locked in the soil.

2. Monsanto hopes to be a major provider of GM trees for forestry ‘carbon sinks’ (large areas of forests planted to soak up CO2 emissions). Monsanto are close to commercialising RoundUp Ready trees and are rumoured to be developing carbon absorbing trees and plants.


References [40] www.metroactive.com/papers/metro/05.11.00/cover/gen-food2-0019.html [41] www.ciwf.co.uk/Pubs/Reports/BST_report.pdf [42] www.purefood.org/rBGH/euwarn.cfm [43] www.purefood.org/gefood/soybeansfailing.cfm [44] www.connectotel.com/gmfood/ny200599.txt [45] www.twnside.org.sg/title/thwart.htm [46] for further information see “2001: A Seed Odyssey: Annual Update on Terminator and Traitor Technology Suicide Seeds: Not Dead Yet!” available online from RAFI www.rafi.org [47] see www.percyschmeiser.com/ for more information [48] see www.foxbghsuit.com/ for more information

[49] see www.gn.apc.org/pmhp/gs/ for more information

[50] to read the Ecologist Monsanto edition go to http://dhushara.tripod.com/book/upd/umar99/monsan/ecol1.htm [51] http://www.xs4all.nl/~ceo/greenhouse/fraud.html

 

An excellent briefing on the old pre Pharmacia merger Monsanto compiled by ASeed Europe www.groundup.org/monsanto/

Monsanto Monitor www.groundup.org/fcorp.htm

For spoof Monsanto websites and subverts go to www.subvertise.org/genetics/monsanto/index.html, www.monsantos.com, www.seizetheday.org/monsanto/main.htm, http://monsantosucks.com/


Campaigning groups on GMOs

 

The Genetic Engineering Network (GEN)

www.geneticsaction.org.uk
The Genetic Engineering Network is a network of people opposed to the imposition of GM technology. GEN includes local campaign and action groups NGOs, direct activists, and individuals campaigning against genetic engineering. It is the leading source of info on the UK GM-crop trials, with info on each individual trial and its current status.

Genewatch www.genewatch.org
Policy research group, evaluating genetic technologies from the perspective of human and animal health and welfare together with environmental protection.

Totnes Genetics Group www.togg.org.uk
A resource for campaigning and taking non-violent direct action against GMOs

Friends of the Earth www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/food_and_biotechnology
What’s wrong with GE from health and environmental perspectives plus FAQs, news and press releases

Norfolk Genetic Information Network (NGIN) www.members.tripod.com/~ngin/
FAQs: intro on GM and a simple guide to genetic engineering

Greenpeace www.greenpeace.org.uk
Bio Tech information and Campaign Highlights

GM info www.gm-info.org.uk
The Corporate Watch GM website. Interactive maps of where GMOs are being produced, handled or sold in the UK. Take Action against the biotech beast

Primal Seeds www.primalseeds.org
Primal Seeds exists as a network to actively engage in protecting biodiversity and creating local food security. It is a response to industrial biopiracy, control of the global seed supply and of our food. This evolving tool is designed to empower individuals to participate in the creation of tomorrow

DEFRA GMO public register www.defra.gov.uk/environment/acre/pdf/exper.pdf

The official government list of which GM crops have been licensed for field trials and where they are being grown.

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) www.rafi.org
Excellent organisation working on conservation and sustainable improvement of agricultural biodiversity, and to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural societies.

Independent voice of concern about the ‘Monsanto Company’

www.monsanto.org and www.pharmacia.org.uk

 


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