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Monsanto Company is the world's largest seed company and fourth largest agrochemcial company. A Fortune 500 company based in the United States, its products include pesticides, plant biotech traits, and agricultural (primarily corn, cotton, and oilseeds) and vegetable seeds.

Quick Facts (2013)

Reported Sales: USD 14.861 billion

Net Income: USD 1.659 billion

Workforce: about 21,900 employees worldwide

Revenues are from: herbicides, pesticides and GM crop seeds.

Brief History

Starting as a producer of saccharine in 1901, the original Monsanto entered the pesticides market in the 1940's producing DDT. Along with Dow, it supplied the military the dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. In 2000, the original Monsanto became Pharmacia. Pharmacia's agricultural division eventually became the Monsanto today.

Products and Impacts


Monsanto's products included or includes the following harmful pesticides: alachlor, butachlor, glyphosate (Roundup), methyl parathion, and toxaphene. Butachlor is a known carcinogen whose registration has been rejected by the US EPA. Carbaryl can cause headaches, nausea, coordination problems, and breathing difficulties. Methyl parathion is a WHO Class 1 or extremely toxic pesticide.

Dioxin is a highly toxic contaminant found in Agent Orange (made from the herbicides 2,5-D and 2,4,5-T). For years, Monsanto claimed that dioxin has no long-term effets. However, during the Kemner vs Monsanto trial, it was revealed that Monsanto was aware of such implacts deliberately skewing health cases.


At the forefront of genetically engineered traits, Monsanto is a market leader in the proprietary seed market. Their seeds include herbicide-tolerant crops like Roundup Ready maize or corn and soy. With the availability of Roundup Ready crops, glyphosate use went up.

Monsanto and its subsidiaries also developed insect-killing Bt varieties of maize or corn, cotton and brinjal (eggplant). Bt toxins from Bt crops has been linked to impaired immune sytems, gatrointestinal problems among others. In India, Bt cotton led farmers to rely more on agrochemical inputs, using more pesticides to control increased pest incidence. The high costs of seeds and agrochemical use undermine farmer income and livelihood.

GM Contamination

US farms tranditionally planted with non-GM crops have been contaminated by Monsanto's products. In 2001, it was discovered that genetically-engineered maize have contaminated the native landraces in Mexico - the world's center of biodiversity in maize.

Corruption and Manipulation of Science

When the study exposing the contamination of Mexico's maize came out, Monsanto's PR firm harnessed pro-GM lobbyists and scientists to discredit the investigators and pressure the journal.


Monsanto was found guilty of bribing Indonesian officials to bypass environmental impact assessments required for GE crop cultivation.


To promote and protect its interests, Monsanto representatives slip back and forth between corporate and government decision-making posts to influence regulatory decisions. Michael Taylor, the poster child of this “revolving door”, shuttles between Monsanto and the US FDA eventually helping draft the latter's policy on genetically-modified food.