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Monsanto Report a Corporate Profile

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Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Company History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Modern-Day Monsanto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Monsanto’s Environmental Impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Market Share . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Figure 1. TIMELINE: A Selected History of Monsanto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Influence on Government . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Figure 2. Monsanto’s Interlocking Board Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Figure 3. Monsanto’s Revolving Door . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Aggressive Tactics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 PR Masterminds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Litigation Against Farmers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Corporate Lawsuits. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Buying Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Global Reach. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15 Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Market Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Genetically Engineered Crops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Executive Summary
You know who Monsanto is. Even if you don’t recognize the company name, you’ve come across some of its products: maybe you’ve used Roundup weed killer on your lawn or garden, you’ve heard about the debate over treating cows with the artificial growth hormone rBGH, you’re worried about unlabeled genetically engineered organisms in your food, or you’ve learned about the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War, maybe from family members, coworkers or friends who suffered the health consequences. These may not seem related, but they all are a major part of Monsanto’s legacy. The agriculture and life sciences company that’s known today as Monsanto is only a recent development. Most of Monsanto’s history is steeped in heavy industrial chemical production — a legacy that is extremely at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey.



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Monsanto is a global agricultural biotechnology company that specializes in genetically engineered (GE) seeds and herbicides, most notably Roundup herbicide and GE Roundup Ready seed.1 GE seeds have been altered with inserted genetic material to exhibit traits that repel pests or withstand the application of herbicides. In 2009, in the United States alone, nearly all (93 percent) of soybeans and four-fifths (80 percent) of corn were grown with seeds containing Monsanto-patented genetics.2 The company’s power and influence affects not only the U.S. agricultural industry, but also political campaigns, regulatory processes and the structure of agriculture systems all over the world. Monsanto was the largest biotechnology seed company in the world in 2011,9 providing many essential inputs required for farming. Monsanto reported 2011 net sales of $11.8 billion, and profits of $1.6 billion.10 Monsanto has been at the forefront of the biotechnology industry and is one of the largest agricultural patent-holding companies, with more than 1,676 patents on seeds, plants and other agricultural applications.11 Because of Monsanto’s market dominance, its products are changing the face of farming, from the use of Monsanto’s pesticides and herbicides, to the genetic makeup of the food we eat. Monsanto was not always a purveyor of life sciences, purportedly working to “produce better foods for consumers and better feed for animals.”12 It began as a purveyor of dangerous and controversial chemicals, a history that it has tried desperately to greenwash away.

Monsanto grew from a small chemical startup company to an enormously powerful agricultural and life sciences company, which Fortune magazine once labeled “possibly America’s most feared corporation.”13 Its market share of seed and patents is overwhelming, and it is notorious for aggressively enforcing intellectual property rights.14 Monsanto has a close relationship with the U.S. government, which helps it to find loopholes or simply create regulations that benefit its bottom line. Monsanto and other corporations have increasingly funded academic research from public universities, which they use to justify their latest products. Monsanto’s international power has grown at an alarming rate, much to the dismay of developing countries that have inadvertently been exposed to its relentless business strategy. For all of these reasons, Monsanto has become a company that farmers and consumers around the world should fear.

Company History
Monsanto began in 1901 as a small chemical start-up by John Francis Queeney, a man in the wholesale drug industry. Its first product was saccharin, a sugar substitute, and it became the major supplier of inputs for another relatively new company, Coca-Cola.15 By the 1920s, Monsanto’s product line had expanded to include sedatives, laxatives and aspirin. In the late 1920s, John Queeney’s son Edgar took over and drastically expanded operations: Monsanto began producing everything from synthetic fibers, plastics and rubber goods to industrial chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides and herbicides.16

Monsanto: By the Numbers
2011 Net Sales: Top Products:



Global Facilities:

Global Reach:

U.S. Political Campaign Contributions 7 (2000–2012): U.S. Lobbying Expenditures (2000–2012):



After a period focused on agrichemicals — including production of the notorious Agent Orange (see sidebar) and production of PCBs, a class of chemicals so toxic that they were banned in the 1970s but still pollute the environment today — Monsanto transitioned beyond chemicals into seeds. After its creation of an agricultural division in 1960, Monsanto went on a buying spree for the next 40 years, acquiring and merging with dozens of seed and agricultural companies (and shedding its chemical and industrial divisions) to broaden its operations once again and shift itself exclusively into the agricultural market.17 See Figure 1 on pages 6–7 for a timeline of Monsanto’s history.

PCBs continue to be illegally leaked or dumped even after the ban. These persistent chemicals do not break down easily in the environment, and continue to cycle through air, water and soil for long periods of time. 58 PCBs can accumulate in plants and food crops, and also in fish and other aquatic organisms from water that contains PCBs. They can then be taken up by other animals that eat these fish and crops as food, and accumulate to higher levels as they go up the food chain. One of the main sources of human exposure to PCBs is through contaminated food consumption. 59

Market Share
Monsanto began its research and production of agrochemicals in the 1960s. In 1982, Monsanto’s scientists became the first to genetically modify a plant cell.78 Throughout the 1990s, Monsanto gradually shed its plastics, chemicals and fibers companies and rapidly acquired multiple seed and agricultural companies, shifting its identity from a chemical company to one that produced GE crops and linked agrochemicals — a life sciences company.

Modern-Day Monsanto
Monsanto’s Environmental Impact
As a chemical manufacturer, Monsanto’s day-to-day operations have wreaked havoc on the environment and public health. Approximately 99 percent of the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used by U.S. industry were produced by Monsanto at its Sauget, Illinois, plant until all PCB production was banned nationwide by Congress in 1976.56 PCBs are a chemical class produced since the 1930s mainly for use as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment, until startling health effects were discovered. PCBs were found to be carcinogenic, and to cause detrimental effects to the liver, endocrine system, immune system, reproductive system, developmental system, skin, eye and brain.57

Monsanto’s wildly popular herbicide Roundup guaranteed the company a top spot as it transitioned into the agriculture market. Sales from Roundup and other glyphosatebased herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto’s total 2011 net sales.79 Monsanto engineers its GE seeds to resist Roundup and Roundup alone, so that the sale of the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy Roundup Ready seeds.

What Is Agent Orange?




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Monsanto’s Production Facilities
Monsanto PCB plant in Anniston, Ala.:

Solutia Plant (formerly Monsanto) in Nitro, W.Va.: Monsanto plant in Augusta, Ga.: Monsanto phosphorous plant in Soda Springs, Idaho: Monsanto plant in Sauget, Ill.: Times Beach, Mo.: Solutia plants -

Times Beach, Missouri: A Dioxin Disaster

70 71

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a selected history of
Monsanto acquires GD Searle, which discovered and manufactured aspartame artificial sweetener. Creates subsidiary NutraSweet Company.37

Figure 1.

Grandcamp ship explodes in Texas City, Tex., while loading near a Monsanto plant dock. The ship was carrying 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate, and killed over 500 people. It remains the largest and most deadly U.S. chemical disaster, even six decades later.30

Dioxin, a byproduct of PCB production, is found at up to 127 parts per billion in the Missouri community of Times Beach, and over 2,000 people have to be permanently relocated by the EPA.35 Monsanto denies any connection, despite its PCB manufacturing plant in the area. (See sidebar, page 5.)

Begins manufacturing agricultural chemicals. These include 2,4-D, an herbicide that was mixed with 2,4,5-T to create Agent Orange, a defoliant contaminated with dioxin that was produced for the U.S. military during the Vietnam War.

Scientists at Monsanto are the first to genetically modify a plant cell.36

Manufactures salicylic acid, plastics, resins, industrial and chemical goods.27 Acquires chemical and rubber companies.28

Becomes principal company supplying Agent Orange to U.S. military for use in the Vietnam War.32 The Air Force sprayed nearly 4 million acres of South Vietnam with 18 million gallons of Agent Orange and similar defoliants,33 the effects of which are still being felt today. (See sidebar, page 4.)

Manufactures saccharin, as a major supplier to Coca-Cola; manufactures caffeine, vanillin, sedatives and laxatives. Becomes world’s largest maker of aspirin.26

Manufactures plastics and synthetic fibers.

Roundup herbicide is approved for use on certain crops.34

1930s 1901
Monsanto Company is Acquires Swann Chemical Corporation; manufactures polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) through 1977.29

Monsanto’s brands of


propachlor and arachlor herbicides are approved for use, spurring the company’s shift into the agricultural market.31










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1993 rBGH, commercially known as Posilac, is approved for U.S. market.38 (See sidebar, page 11.)

Drought-tolerant GE corn, as well as altered fatty-acid GE soybean, are approved.49 Roundup Ready alfalfa is reapproved.


Acquires Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides is to blame for dwindling bee populations.50 Roundup Ready alfalfa is reapproved.51

Divests plastics division to Bayer.39

Roundup Ready sugar beets are reapproved.52

Genetically engineered Roundup Ready soybeans, canola and cotton, as well as Bollgard insectprotected (Bt) corn and cotton, are introduced to the U.S. market.40

Maharashtra state government in India bans sale and distribution of Bt cotton seeds after accusations that Mahyco Monsanto provided inferior quality seeds that aggravated India’s agrarian crisis and spurred farmer suicides.53 (See sidebar, page 15.)

“Monsanto Rider” is introduced in U.S. Farm Bill, which would allow GE crops to be approved quickly with very little regulation or testing.54

First stacked-trait combination in cotton is introduced (multiple GE traits added to one seed).41

Opposes Proposition 37 in California that would require labeling of foods with GE ingredients. Contributes $8.1 million as top donor in a $45 million campaign that defeats the initiative.55

Spins off chemical division as Solutia. Begins an acquisition spree buying multiple seed and agricultural companies.42

Acquires Delta & Pine Land Company after a decade of antitrust investigation on Monsanto’s monopoly in the cotton industry. Divests Stoneville cotton brand as ordered by the District Court of Columbia in 1998 order to go through with D&PL acquisition.47 Roundup Ready corn is commercialized.

Sells Posilac to Eli Lilly, amid consumer uproar over company support for attempts to outlaw rBGH-free labeling.48

Roundup Ready alfalfa and sugar beets are approved, then cancelled in 2007 for further analysis, then approved again in 2011 (alfalfa) and 2012 (beets).46

Acquires DeKalb Genetics Corporation, a seed company.43

Monsanto Chemical Company becomes a subsidiary of Pharmacia Corporation (which merged with Upjohn in 1995).44 Monsanto sells NutraSweet Company to J.W. Childs.45

Monsanto Company is spun off as its own new agricultural sciences company. The Monsanto as we know it today is born.







approximately 40 percent of all crop acres in the country. Monsanto’s research and development surpasses other companies, as it holds six times as many permits for field trials of biotech seeds as any other company in the United States. 85 A lawyer working for DuPont, the next largest competitor in the seed business, said, “a seed company can’t stay in business without offering seeds with Roundup Ready in it, so if they want to stay in that business, essentially they have to do what Monsanto tells them to do.”86 While Monsanto’s sheer size and the power of its product lines gives it an obvious edge, there’s something more to the story of its unbridled success. It’s the way Monsanto does business: how it interacts with and influences governments; its aggressive tactics against its own customers and competition; and its ruthless expansion into foreign markets.

GE Seeds
Most of Monsanto’s market strength comes from its genetically engineered seeds. Genetic engineering modifies the genetic material of crops to display specific traits. Most commercial biotech crops are developed to be either herbicide tolerant, allowing herbicides to kill weeds without harming crops, or insect resistant, which protects plants from destructive pests. 80 Monsanto creates many of both types. Monsanto not only markets its own patented seeds, but it uses licensing agreements with other companies and distributors to spread its traits throughout the seed supply. An Associated Press investigation found that these agreements stipulate how competitors can use Monsanto’s traits in their products, and negotiate discounts received for keeping a certain amount of Monsanto’s products in stock; some contracts even affected ownership of smaller seed companies by requiring them to destroy their Monsanto inventory if ownership changed. 81 By 2010, Monsanto’s traits were present in 95 percent of the U.S. GE corn seed market and 89 percent of the U.S. GE cotton seed market. 82 The acreage on which Monsanto’s GE crop traits are grown has increased from a total of 3 million acres in 1996 to 282.3 million acres worldwide and 151.4 million acres in the United States in 2009. 83 Roughly 382 million acres in the United States are used for crop production, 84 so that means that Monsanto’s products constitute

Monsanto has a long history with former and current employees of the U.S. government, public universities and industry and trade groups. There has been a continuous “revolving door” between these institutions and Monsanto’s Board of Directors and senior staff, offering some explanation for Monsanto’s powerful influence in policy and public research (see Figures 2 and 3 on pages 9–10). Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, 87 advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 88 and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. 89 They presided over multiple universities in various senior positions, including South Dakota State University (with whom Monsanto has a significant research agreement),90 Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute91 and Washington University in St. Louis.92 Monsanto shares board members with other corporations such as Procter & Gamble,93 Lockheed Martin94 and Synthetic Genomics.95 The company’s board members have been a part of the International Food and Agricultural Trade Policy Council, the Council for Biotechnology Information,96 the United Kingdom Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences Biological Weapons working group,97 CropLife International98 and the Council on Foreign Relations.99 The prevalence of Monsanto’s directors in these highly influential positions begs a closer look at how they’re able to push the pro-GE agenda within the government and influence public opinion.


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Figure 2. Monsanto’s Interlocking Board Members100
Each connection is a current or former Monsanto employee


























Figure 3. Monsanto’s Revolving Door101
Monsanto Director was a member of the Cincinnati Business Advisory Council (2011)


Monsanto Director was 11th SSA Commissioner (1989-1992) Monsanto Director was Deputy Assistant to President Reagan, and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs (1986-1988) Former Monsanto lawyer later became a Supreme Court justice (that voted in 2012 to uphold USDA’s decision to deregulate GE alfalfa without the required Environmental Impact Statement.) Former Monsanto Director was EPA Agency Administrator (1983-1985)

Former Monsanto Director was 31st U.S. Secretary of Commerce (1996)

Monsanto Director appointed by President Obama to Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations (2012)

Former Monsanto Director was President Clinton’s USTR (1993-1996) Monsanto Director was on Defense Science Board and Threat Reduction Advisory Committee (2001-2009)



Monsanto Director was on Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (2012) DEPARTMENT Michael Taylor: FDA staff lawyer/executive assistant to OF DEFENSE Commissioner (1976-1981), lawyer at King & Spaulding representing Monsanto (1984-1991), FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy (1991-1994), Vice President of Public Policy at Monsanto (1998-2001), FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary DEPARTMENT Medicine (2010-present)




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Bovine Growth Hormone
The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) has been scrutinized for the connections between Monsanto and the agency that ultimately approved the drug for use. Three FDA employees working on Monsanto’s application for approval appeared to have such close ties with Monsanto that — at the request of Representatives George Brown from California, David Obey from Wisconsin and Bernie Sanders from Vermont — the Government Accountability Office investigated them in 1994 for conflicts of interest.102

The GAO investigated Michael Taylor, Margaret Miller and Suzanne Sechen. They had all been involved in some way in Monsanto’s initial rBGH studies, and then went on to work for the FDA in positions that were later responsible for review of those same studies. The GAO concluded that none of them technically violated any conflict-of-interest rules, and that there was no legal ground for them to take action, despite the multiple ties between Monsanto and the FDA.103 It was especially surprising that Michael Taylor got off without a fight, as he had begun his career at the law firm King & Spalding, where one of his clients was Monsanto.104 There, he drafted a memo for Monsanto on whether it would be constitutional for states to adopt different rules regarding rBGH labeling. He then left King & Spalding to work for the FDA, where he helped draft the FDA’s guidance on rBGH labeling,105 which helped prevent dairies from labeling their products “rBGH free.”106 Taylor was also responsible for the FDA’s 1992 guidance stating that there was no need to label genetically modified foods as such.107




Aggressive Tactics
PR Masterminds
As Monsanto transitioned from a chemical and industrial processor into an agriculture and life sciences company, it worked to convince the media and consumers that its past would not affect its ability to improve agriculture and “produce more, conserve more and improve farmers’ lives.”117 The company has touted its products and technologies as the most safe and sustainable answers to farming problems — so much so, in fact, that it has been known to blatantly mislead consumers. In 1996, as the patent on Roundup was nearing expiration, Monsanto released a series of advertisements in New York for Roundup herbicide and Accord pesticide, claiming that Roundup “biodegrades into naturally occurring elements,” “will not wash or leach in the soil” and “can be used where kids and pets’ll play.” 118 The company also claimed that glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup and Accord, “is less toxic to rats than table salt,” and is “practically non-toxic.” 119 These ads were taken to the New York Attorney General, Dennis Vacco, for using misleading information, and he found all of the above claims to be false and misleading.120 In his statement, Vacco said that Monsanto’s claims “contradict the […] statements required on the EPA11

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approved label for Roundup at the time the claims were made.”121 He said that “ads cannot imply that these pesticides, which are used to kill vegetation, are risk free. They should give consumers a full picture of a pesticide’s risks.”122 To settle the case, Monsanto had to agree to immediately cease and desist from producing any advertisements in New York with the claims investigated, and to pay the Attorney General $50,000 in costs.123 More recently, Monsanto has ramped up a media campaign to portray the company as an agricultural hero, a friend of farmers and a savior of the global south. These claims include reducing chemical use, increasing yield, protecting from drought and feeding the world’s growing population.

The company’s advertising costs for 2009–2011 totaled $279 million.124 This budget was used to forward Monsanto’s sustainable image, stating goals to “protect our natural resources, fight hunger, improve nutrition and provide economic benefits to everyone involved in an improved system of agriculture.”125 Instead of following through on these promises, Monsanto is merely creating an image to hide behind as the company continues to promote industrial agriculture and genetically engineered seeds all over the world. Its model of agriculture brings higher costs for farmers in the United States and abroad, while Monsanto and other biotech companies reap the profits. GE crops have shown little benefit over conventional crops, as the herbicide- and pesticide-laden crops have led to weed and pest resistance,126 have shown small increase or no yield advantage127 and have not reduced agrochemical use.128 Further, the 2009 International Assessment of Agriculture Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development concluded that the high costs for seeds and chemicals, uncertain yields and potential to undermine local food security makes biotechnology a poor choice for the developing world.129

Litigation Against Farmers
Monsanto has come under public scrutiny for its role in litigation against individual farmers for patent violation claims on GE seeds. Popular documentaries such as “Food, Inc.” and “The Future of Food” highlighted some of these farmers’ stories, and it became such a hot topic in the media that Monsanto has developed a special section on its website for explanation of these lawsuits.130 Monsanto ensures its right to sue farmers through the company’s technology licensing agreement on every bag of GE seed. Any farmer who buys Monsanto’s seed is bound to it, either by signing a contract or simply opening the bag, and it stipulates that farmers must not save any seed (a thousands-year-old tradition) and are responsible for following all procedures included in Monsanto’s Technology Use Guide.131 This stipulation effectively shut down the seed-saving industry. The agreement also allows Monsanto to investigate farmers’ fields at any time, and to access farmers’ records filed with the USDA Farm Service Agency.132 These records tell Monsanto how many bags a farmer bought and exactly how many acres he planted the seed on, making property investigations and prosecution very easy.133 To make things even simpler, Monsanto set up a toll-free
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“snitch line” where neighbors and community members are encouraged to anonymously tattle on farmers that may be using Monsanto’s seeds without a license.134 The company fiercely defends its patent rights and stands behind the claim that it should be able to collect damages from anyone who violates them.135 To achieve these ends, Monsanto has hired private investigators to videotape farmers, sneak into community meetings and interview informants about local farming activities.136 The cases that result from the information Monsanto collects have seen the company demanding thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees from farmers who never chose to plant the company’s seeds in the first place.137 GE seed contamination is a legitimate concern for which Monsanto has refused to take responsibility. The very nature of plant reproduction means that pollen from crops is carried by the wind or insects to reproduce elsewhere. Any crops grown near GE crops are at risk of GE contamination through cross-pollination. Contamination can also occur when GE seeds are inadvertently mixed with non-GE seeds during storage or distribution.138 However, Monsanto states in its Technology Use Guide (which is required reading only for those planting Monsanto seeds) that responsibility for any specific “marketing standards or certification lies with that grower,” that the grower “inherently agree[s] to employ those practices appropriate to ensure the integrity and marketability of his or her crop” and that “each grower needs to be aware of the planting intentions of his or her neighbor in order to gauge the need for appropriate best management practices.”139 In other words, even farmers who do not grow Monsanto’s products must be held accountable for their neighbors’ GE crops, and Monsanto effectively eliminates the company’s responsibility for its own products. This is especially frightening for farmers when they see Monsanto going after those who inadvertently end up with Monsanto’s traits on their fields. Percy Schmeiser is one of the few lucky ones who won his case against Monsanto — or as much of a win as is possible in such an unfair fight. Schmeiser is a Canadian farmer who was found to be growing Monsanto’s GE canola plants in 1999, but he never intentionally planted Monsanto’s seed — it had blown on to his field either from passing trucks, or from five neighboring farms that all grew Monsanto’s canola.140 Monsanto sued, and the case went all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court in 2004. While the court upheld Monsanto’s patent, it also decided that Schmeiser did not have to pay any fees to Monsanto for the presence of the GE canola.141 He was still, however, burdened by years of expensive legal fees. Most farmers aren’t as fortunate. According to a study conducted by The Center for Food Safety, Monsanto had filed 136 lawsuits against American farmers as of 2010. These lawsuits involved 400 farmers and 53 small businesses.142 Another finding is that Monsanto keeps staff on hand solely for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting farmers.143 Even for the farmers who win their cases, like Mr. Schmeiser, the process takes years of legal battle, stress and significant financial burden. Many farmers settle out of court rather than try to defend themselves — outside of recorded lawsuits, the company investigates roughly 500 farmers each year.144



Corporate Lawsuits
Monsanto doesn’t just sue farmers; it sues (and gets sued by) its own competitors in the seed market. Monsanto and the next largest competitor DuPont have been in a years-long battle trying to prove that the other has too much market power. Monsanto sued DuPont in 2009 for patent infringement when DuPont stacked Monsanto’s Roundup Ready trait with one of DuPont’s own traits in soybeans, which was not allowed in Monsanto’s licensing agreement. DuPont countersued on antitrust issues, claiming that Monsanto gained illegal monopoly power through a “multifaceted, anti-competitive scheme to unlawfully restrict competition.”145 DuPont lost against Monsanto and was ordered to pay $1 billion, the fourth largest patent verdict ever in the United States.146 Legal experts noted that it was odd that such a large damage was awarded when DuPont never even sold the product guilty of patent infringement.147 As of September 2012, DuPont was appealing the decision.148 The problem here is not who copied whom; it’s the fact that our biggest biotech companies are spending their time on lengthy and costly lawsuits amongst themselves, while the prices of seeds continue to rise because of anticompetitive behavior. The endless finger-pointing obscures efforts to squeeze out competition and allows the use of patents to further consolidate the seed supply, driving up costs for farmers and limiting the choices of seed available to them.

It is not surprising that Monsanto has taken an interest in influencing the research priorities of several of these institutions. As mentioned earlier, Monsanto has shared board members with several universities. The company also has donated enough for naming rights at some schools. Iowa State University now has a Monsanto Student Services wing in the main agriculture building, thanks to a million-dollar pledge.150 The University of Missouri houses a Monsanto Auditorium.151 Monsanto gave $200,000 to the University of Illinois’s college of agriculture to fund the Monsanto Multi-Media Executive Studio, where industry seminars are held.152 These donations (or more appropriately, investments) increase both the company’s influence and brand power at the university level.

Buying Research
Land-grant universities have been important agricultural knowledge centers since their creation in 1862. For over 100 years, these public institutions provided invaluable research to farmers and the agricultural community through public investments from state and federal governments. Starting in the 1980s, however, federal policies including the Bayh-Dole Act of 1982 began encouraging land-grant schools to partner with the private sector on agricultural research, and to patent the results of the research. A key goal was to develop agricultural products such as seeds, which were sold to farmers under an increasingly aggressive patent regime.149 Private sector businesses have flooded public universities with donations and funding for research, skewing the goals of research toward the goals of industry and discouraging independent research.


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With this connection to land-grant research, Monsanto is not only gaining access to research that is publicly accepted as legitimate and independent, but it is profiting highly from it. The company’s signature products, the artificial growth hormone for cows rBGH and Roundup Ready seed technology, were only possible through research provided by public universities.153 The use of these technologies is further advanced because the official agricultural research establishment pursues them rather than alternatives such as organic or agroecological solutions. Extension services then spread this as official advice for best farming practices, giving it even more legitimacy.

Amid discussions of a global food crisis, technological advancements in biotechnology are widely touted as a quick, easy and sustainable fix for agricultural development. Corporations are stepping in as key players in the fight against hunger and poverty, and they are convincing governments to let them promote their industrialized business models in developing countries. WikiLeaks cables from around the world in recent years reveal Monsanto’s representatives and U.S. government officials striving to promote and sell biotechnology worldwide.158 The Department of State has hosted meetings to discuss the merits of GE technology in target countries in recent years.159 Cables from embassies in China, Hungary, Ukraine, France and even the Vatican show a relentless drive to convince those countries of the benefits of GE crops, whether or not the countries themselves want or need it.160 Not surprisingly, not all countries are benefiting from Monsanto’s invasive global business strategy. Once Monsanto’s products are introduced, it is virtually impossible to revert back to traditionally grown crops. Farmers must invest in the matching herbicide and pesticides, sign licensing agreements and become liable for any natural spreading of the germplasm. A few stories from around the globe illustrate Monsanto’s impact.

Global Reach
As Monsanto’s share of the U.S. market grows, so does its share of the global market. Monsanto has recently bought multiple companies in South America and Eastern Europe154 and licenses and sells its products to every region in the world.155 Monsanto’s hybrid corn crops hold the number one position in the share of seeds in all Latin American “key countries” (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, according to a corporate presentation).156 Approximately 46 percent of Monsanto’s 2011 sales originated outside the United States.157


Why Are Farmers Committing Suicide in India?
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After the disastrous earthquake in Haiti in 2010, funding and aid came from individuals, governments, foundations and corporations worldwide. Monsanto donated $4 million worth of hybrid fruit and vegetable seeds to Haiti’s struggling farmers.178 While this may seem like a charitable move, it locks the growers into buying the same costly seeds again and again because hybrid seeds are more expensive than conventional seeds, cannot retain the exact same traits in the next generation (so they can’t be saved from year to year) and require more chemicals to work with Monsanto’s genetic engineering.179 The leader of the Peasant Movement of Papay, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, saw the donation as a plan to get peasant farmers to continue buying more expensive hybrid seeds and institute large-scale agribusiness in Haiti.180 He said: “…In the agricultural industry, it’s always a package. You have to use the seeds, the fertilizer and pesticide together … the United States agribusiness wants to use our land to produce agro-fuel and produce fruit to send to the United States. It doesn’t want a peasant production

culture…. The peasant agriculture doesn’t use chemical pesticide or fertilizer – it’s our agriculture. It’s against the agricultural industry of the United States.” Jean-Baptiste and his organization want to end the promotion of these new seeds, and to stand up against Monsanto’s promotion of more chemical-intensive agriculture. For them, regardless of intentions, “any seed from Monsanto is bad,” because “agriculture is to produce food for life. Now, the agribusiness enterprise combines agriculture and business to get money, without any apprehension about the health” of the products.181

According to a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, at the 8th U.S.–China High Level Joint Biotechnology Working Group Meeting in Beijing in 2009, China’s Vice Minister of Agriculture “noted complaints received from Chinese soybean farmers about the large volumes of biotech soybean imports from the United States. He commented that U.S. companies, including Monsanto, were earning ‘fat profits’ from this trade and were only interested in expanding their market share.”182



In Nepal, a growing resistance movement to Monsanto’s presence escalated in late 2011 after the Nepalese Ministry of Agriculture made agreements with the U.S. Agency for International Development and Monsanto to introduce a pilot program that would import more of Monsanto’s hybrid corn and train farmers to efficiently grow it.183 Nepalese activists protested extensively and sparked a hearing within the Ministry of Agriculture to reassess the proposed Monsanto venture.184 The ministry spokesman, Hari Dahal, had this to say about the situation: “Because we are food insecure to some extent we do feel that we should use hybrids. Second thing is, there is tremendous pressure from the companies too. If there is a provision to file an application then companies will and have been filing applications. So we can’t pick and choose. There is no denying the companies are quite influential.… If a company like Monsanto comes it will eat us whole.”185

Although the European Commission regulates GE crops at the European Union (EU) level, there is a ‘safeguard clause’ allowing temporary restrictions or bans of the use or sale of GE products in individual countries.186 Hungary was the first Eastern European country to have used this safeguard clause, banning Monsanto’s GE corn in 2005 for human health and biodiversity reasons.187 Since then, Monsanto, Pioneer and the U.S. Department of State Senior Advisor for Biotechnology, Jack Bobo, have relentlessly worked to change Hungary’s position. The U.S. government, along with Monsanto and Pioneer, is, according to a cable from the U.S. Embassy in Hungary, “continuing a sustained, modulated outreach plan in hopes of changing the policy over the long term,” and they are hopeful that a “steady stream of carefully orchestrated outreach of this type will eventually wear down Hungary’s resistance to lifting the biotech ban.”188 By 2009, Hungary’s unwavering position (even with multiple pressures by the European Commission to overturn the ban189) prompted the EU to allow the country to permanently maintain its ban on the cultivation of GE crops.190

France is one of Europe’s leading agricultural producers, and has been against GE cultivation since its introduction. In 2006, the top French court revoked some of Monsanto’s authorizations to field test its GE corn — and Monsanto said this would not stop it from further testing. Monsanto insisted that it had the permits necessary and refused to disclose its test-site locations, in fear that GE opposition groups would destroy its fields. Roughly half of all of Monsanto’s test sites in France are destroyed each year.191 Currently, only one seed, Monsanto’s pest-resistant GE corn, has been allowed for cultivation in the EU. Beyond that, the only GE products allowed in the EU are imported food and feed.192 France banned the GE strain of corn in 2008 following public protests and concerns about public safety.193 The French are fiercely protective of their environment and food, and the public outcry against GE crops has been undeniable. Even so, the French court overturned the ban in November 2011.194 French Agricultural Minister Bruno Le Maire imposed another temporary ban on Monsanto’s corn in March 2012 after the company was found guilty of chemical poisoning related to its Lasso herbicide in February 2012.195 It was

Food & Water Watch

the first time a decision was made that found a pesticide maker guilty of such a poisoning — there is usually too much difficulty in establishing definitive causal links between a specific product and health effects experienced by those who use it.196 In order for a country’s individual ban to stand up to the EU’s regulations, the country must have valid scientific justification as determined by the EU for the decision. The European Food Safety Authority ruled in May 2012 that there was not enough evidence of risk to human, animal or environmental health to justify France’s ban on the GE corn, and rejected it.197 Regardless, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has promised to maintain the ban as part of President François Hollande’s broader plan to reduce the use of chemicals in farming and improve overall environmental health.198 The back-and-forth politicization of this issue threatens to take attention away from the real problem here: the French public does not want GE crops cultivated in their country.199 Yet the trade pressures from the biotechnology industry, the United States and the European Union still force their way into French food and agriculture policy. giving money instead toward developing non-genetically engineered seeds that are distributed to farmers without patents and licensing fees. Congress should repeal the Bayh-Dole Act, which created an intellectual property regime that allows companies like Monsanto to dominate the agricultural research system.

Monsanto bullies its way onto farmers’ fields, university research labs, government policies and consumers’ dinner plates through its massive size and aggressive tactics. It’s time for governments around the world, starting with the United States, to take on this agribusiness giant’s stranglehold on the food system. While consumers need to avoid Monsanto’s products, we also need to demand that our government take the following actions:

Genetically Engineered Crops
The federal government should enact a moratorium on new approvals of genetically engineered plants and animals. Regulatory agencies including the USDA and the FDA should institute the precautionary principle for GE foods, and enact policy that would more rigorously evaluate the potentially harmful effects of GE crops before their commercialization. Congress should fund independent research into the health and environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops and mandate that public institutions are permitted to research patented biotech seeds to analyze yields, assess food safety and investigate potential environmental impacts by prohibiting companies like Monsanto from restricting research in their licensing agreements. The federal government should require mandatory labeling of GE foods, ingredients and animal products. The federal government should establish policy that shifts liability for GE contamination to seed patent holders such as Monsanto, rather than farmers who are economically harmed.

Market Power
The U.S. Department of Justice should investigate seed patent contracts with farmers and strengthen the guidelines used to evaluate seed company mergers to determine what effect the mergers had on the marketplace, farmers and consumers and take enforcement action, including divestitures, to address anticompetitive conditions.

Congress should use the Farm Bill to prioritize and fund research to further the public interest, rather than allowing companies like Monsanto to hijack the agricultural research agenda. The federal government should shift public research away from projects that culminate in private patents,

Wired The Washington Post Ibid Chemical Week Chemical Engineering News

Ibid. Journal The Wall Street AgBioForum


Food Policy Fortune

Chemical Week

Weed Science -

Vanity Fair Ibid Ibid. St. Louis Post-Dispatch Post-Dispatch St. Louis

Associated Press The Ecologist Veterans and Agent Orange: Update 2010 The New York Times -

The New York Times


Associated Press

Chicago Tribune Business Week

Bloomberg The New York Times


Daily Post -


The Times of India

Charleston Daily Mail The New York Times California Watch

Reuters -


Food & Water Watch

Ibid Ibid Ibid -

Radio York Times

National Public The New


Ibid ington Post The Wash-


Ibid Ibid

The New York Times


The New York Times The New York Times -

Ibid The Ecologist

New York Times Washington Post

Associated Press





The New York Times Grist


Ibid Ibid Ibid


The Washington Post The Chicago Sun-

St. Louis Post-Dispatch



CBC News CBC News

Ibid. Ibid New York Times The New York Times Chicago Tribune The New York Times Corn & Soybean Digest Ibid Ibid Ibid Iowa State Bloomberg Associated Press Ibid. Bloomberg The

Proceedings of the National Academies of Science


Engineering News.

Chemical &

The New York Times


Environmental Sciences Europe -



Food & Water Watch

Associated Press Inter Press Service The Guard-

FOROYAA Newspaper


The New York Times The New York Times Daily News & Analysis

Every Thirty Minutes: Farmer Suicides, Human Rights, and the Agrarian Crisis in India Ibid ronment News Service EnviThe New York Times Bt



The EFSA Journal The New York Times Bt 47. The New York Times -

Pectinophora gossypielle Pest Management Science

Columbia City Paper The Guardian AFP Ibid Reuters


Reuters Bt The Times of India



Food & Water Watch
National Office 1616 P St. NW, Ste. 300 Washington, DC 20036 tel: (202) 683-2500 fax: (202) 683-2501

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