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Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical's portfolio includes specialty chemicals, agrosciences, plastics, and advanced materials. The Dow Chemical Company, headquartered in the United States of America, fully owns Union Carbide Corporation, Dow AgroSciences LLC, and Rohm and Haas. As of 2009, Dow AgroSciences is the world's fifth largest agrochemical company and the eighth largest seed company.


Quick Facts (2010)

Reported Sales: USD 53.67 billion, a 19.6% increase from 2009

Net Income: USD 2.31 billion

Workforce: 49,505 employees worldwide

Dow is part of the S&P 500 index, and is listed in the New York Stock Exchange.


Brief History

Dow Chemical Company was incorporated in 1897 in the U.S. to commercially manufacture and sell bleach and potassium bromide. It eventually ventured into agricultural chemicals a decade later. It produced magnesium and synthetic rubber during World War II. Afterwards, it oversaw a nuclear weapons production facility. It was also a manufacturer of napalm and Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War. In 2001, Dow fully assumed control of Union Carbide Corporation whose Indian subsidiary operated the factory that leaked toxic fumes in Bhopal back in 1984.


Products and Impacts

Pesticides

Dow AgroSciences LLC, specializes on agrochemicals, seeds and biotechnology. It had annual sales of USD 4.9 billion in 2010.

Dow's product portfolio of hazardous pesticides since its early history include 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, chlorpyrifos, clopyralid, DDT, ethyline dibromide (EDB), haloxyfop, mancozeb, nuarimol, pentachlorophenol, telone, and sulfuryl fluoride. Chlorpyrifos, a widely used house insecticide, affects the nervous system and brain, particularly of young children. DDT use has been listed for restriction (Annex B) in the Stockholm Convention. Mancozeb is a known carcinogen and reproductive or developmental toxin.

Both 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T are the dioxin-contaminated active ingredients of Agent Orange which causes stillbirths, miscarriages, and other ill effects. Vietnam War veterans exposed to dioxin were later disclosed to be sicker; their children more at risk for birth defects.

Bribery

To ensure the registration of its pesticides in India, DowElanco-Nocil (now Dow AgroSciences India Pvt. Ltd.) bribed officials at the federal and state levels.

Bhopal Tragedy

Up to this day, Dow has refused to take legal responsibility for the harms caused by the Bhopal explosion claiming that Union Carbide had fully resolved the matter. Survivors and their families received a measly USD 350 per victim. Also, the factory has not been cleaned up and toxic wastes continue to contaminate ground water. To know more about the Bhopal Tragedy, visit the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

 

Biotechnology

Dow's seed and biotech products include Roundup Ready soybeans, WideStrike (a doubly-stacked Bt cotton variety), and Mycogen seeds such as SmartStax corn. SmartStax is a collaboration between Dow and Monsanto inserting as many as eight foreign genes into one corn line.