Timeline of Monsanto’s Dark History
Sweet ‘N Low1901: Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri by John Francis Queeny, a 30-year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. Queeny funded the start-up with capital from Coca-Cola (saccharin). Founder John Francis Queeny named Monsanto Chemical Works after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto. Queeny’s father in law was Emmanuel Mendes de Monsanto, wealthy financier of a sugar company active in Vieques, Puerto Rico and based in St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies.
1902: Monsanto manufactures its first product, the artificial sweetener Saccharin, which Monsanto sold to the Coca-Cola Company. The U.S. government later files suit over the safety of Saccharin – but loses.
1904: Queeny persuaded family and friends to invest $15000, Monsanto has strong ties to The Walt Disney Company, it having financial backing from the Order’s Bank of America founded in Jesuit-ruled San Francisco by Italian-American Roman-Catholic Knight of Malta Amadeo Giannini.
1905: Monsanto company was also producing caffeine and vanillin and was beginning to turn a profit.
1906: The government’s monopoly on meat regulation began, when in response to public panic resulting from the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Teddy Roosevelt signed legislation mandating federal meat inspections. Today, Salatin claims that agricultural regulation favors multinational corporations such as ConAgra and Monsanto because the treasonous science that supports the USDA regulatory framework is paid for by these corporations, which continue to give large grants to leading schools and research facilities.
1908: John Francis Queeny leaves his part-time job as the new branch manager of another drug house the Powers-Weightman-Rosegarten Company to become Monsanto’s full-time president.
1912: Agriculture again came to the forefront with the creation of the DeKalb County Farm Bureau, one of the first organizations of its kind. In the 1930s the DeKalb AgResearch Corporation (today MONSANTO) marketed its first hybrid seed corn.
1914–1918: During WWI, cut off from imported European chemicals, Monsanto was forced to manufacture it’s own, and it’s position as a leading force in the chemical industry was assured. Unable to import foreign supplies from Europe during World War I, Queeny turned to manufacturing his own raw materials. It was then his scientists discovered that the Germans, in anticipation of the war, had ripped out vital pages from their research books which explained various chemical processes.
1915: Business expanded rapidly. Monsanto sales surpass the $1,000,000 mark for the first time.
1917: U.S. government sues Monsanto over the safety of Monsanto’s original product, saccharin. Monsanto eventually won, after several years in court.
1917: Monsanto added more and more products: vanillin, caffeine, and drugs used as sedatives and laxatives.
1917: Bayer, The German competition cut prices in an effort to drive Monsanto out of business, but failed. Soon, Monsanto diversified into phenol (a World War I -era antiseptic), and aspirin when Bayer’s German patent expired in 1917. Monsanto began making aspirin, and soon became the largest manufacturer world-wide.
1918: With the purchase of an Illinois acid company, Monsanto began to widen the scope of its factory operations.
Mar 15, 1918: More than 500 of the 750 employees of the Monsanto Chemical Works, which has big contracts for the Government, went on strike, forcing the plant to dose down.
Aug 15, 1919: Thereafter much of it was declared surplus, and a contract was entered into with the Monsanto Chemical Co., of St. Louis, Mo., by which contract the Director of Sales authorized the Monsanto Co. to sell for the United States its surplus phenol, estimated at 27521242 pounds, for a market price to be fixed from time to time by the representative of the contracting officer of the United States, but with a minimum price of 9 cents a pound.
1919: Monsanto established its presence in Europe by entering into a partnership with Graesser’s Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr near Ruabon, Wales to produce vanillin, salicylic acid, aspirin and later rubber.
1920s: In its third decade, Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals like sulfuric acid and other chemicals.
Jan 5, 1920: The petitioner was authorized to sell two tracts of land in the Common Fields of Cahokia, St. Clair County, containing 2.403 acres and 3.46 acres respectively, to the Monsanto Chemical Works for the sum of $1500.
1920-1921: A postwar depression during the early 1920s affected profits, but by the time John Queeny turned over Monsanto to Edgar in 1928 the financial situation was much brighter.
1926: Environmental policy was generally governed by local governments, Monsanto Chemical Company founded and incorporated the town of Monsanto, later renamed Sauget, Illinois, to provide a more business friendly environment for one of its chemical plants. For years, the Monsanto plant in Sauget was the nation’s largest producer of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). And although polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were banned in the 1970s, they remain in the water along Dead Creek in Sauget.
1927: Monsanto had over 2,000 employees, with offices across the country and in England.
1927: Shortly after its initial listing on the New York Stock Exchange, Monsanto moved to acquire 2 chemical companies that specialized in rubber. Other chemicals were added in later years, including detergents.
1928: John Queeny’s son Edgar Monsanto Queeny takes over the Monsanto company. Monsanto had gone public, a move that paved the way for future expansion. At this time, Monsanto had 55 shareholders, 1,000 employees, and owned a small company in Britain.
1929: Monsanto acquires Rubber Services Laboratories. Charlie Sommer joined Monsanto, and later became president of Monsanto in 1960.
October 1929: The folks at Monsanto Co. fished through their records, but they couldn’t find out why the company’s symbol is MTC. Monsanto went public in October 1929, just a few days before the great stock market crash. Some symbols are holdovers from the 19th century, when telegraph operators used single-letter symbols for the most active stocks to conserve wire space, says the New York Stock Exchange. Mergers, acquisitions and failure have caused many single-letter symbols to change
1929: Monsanto began production of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the United States. PCBs were considered an industrial wonder chemical – an oil that would not burn, was impervious to degradation and had almost limitless applications. Today PCBs are considered one of the gravest chemical threats on the planet. PCBs, widely used as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, cutting oils, waterproof coatings and liquid sealants, are potent carcinogens and have been implicated in reproductive, developmental and immune system disorders. The world’s center of PCB manufacturing was Monsanto’s plant on the outskirts of East St. Louis, Illinois, which has the highest rate of fetal death and immature births in the state.
Monsanto PiratesMonsanto produced PCBs for over 50 years and they are now virtually omnipresent in the blood and tissues of humans and wildlife around the globe – from the polar bears at the north pole to the penguins in Antarctica. These days PCBs are banned from production and some experts say there should be no acceptable level of PCBs allowed in the environment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says, “PCB has been demonstrated to cause cancer, as well as a variety of other adverse health effects on the immune system, reproductive system, nervous system and endocrine system.” But the evidence of widespread contamination from PCBs and related chemicals has been accumulating from 1965 onwards and internal company papers show that Monsanto knew about the PCB dangers from early on.
The PCB problem was particularly severe in the town of Anniston in Alabama where discharges from the local Monsanto plant meant residents developed PCB levels hundreds or thousands of times the average. As The Washington Post reported, “for nearly 40 years, while producing the now-banned industrial coolants known as PCBs at a local factory, Monsanto Co. routinely discharged toxic waste into a west Anniston creek and dumped millions of pounds of PCBs into oozing open-pit landfills. And thousands of pages of Monsanto documents : many emblazoned with warnings such as ‘CONFIDENTIAL: Read and Destroy’ : show that for decades, the corporate giant concealed what it did and what it knew.”
Ken Cook of the Environmental Working Group says that based on the Monsanto documents made public, Monsanto “knew the truth from the very beginning. They lied about it. They hid the truth from their neighbors.” One Monsanto memo explains their justification: “We can’t afford to lose one dollar of business.” Eventually Monsanto was found guilty of conduct “so outrageous in character and extreme in degree as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in civilized society”.
1930s: DeKalb AgResearch Corporation (today MONSANTO) marketed its first **HYBRID** seed corn (maize).
1933: Incorporated as Monsanto Chemical Company
1934: “I recognized my two selves: a crusading idealist and a cold, granitic believer in the law of the jungle” – Edgar Monsanto Queeny, Monsanto chairman, 1943-63, “The Spirit of Enterprise”
1935: Edward O’Neal (who became chairperson in 1964) came to Monsanto with the acquisition of the Swann Corporation. Monsanto goes into the soap and detergents industry, starts producing phosphorus.
1938: Monsanto goes into the plastic business (the year after DuPont helped ban hemp because it was superior to their new NYLON product made from Rockefeller OIL). Monsanto became involved in plastics when it completely took over Fiberloid, one of the oldest nitrocellulose production companies, which had a 50% stake in Shawinigan Resins.
1939: Monsanto purchased Resinox, a subsidiary of Corn Products, and Commercial Solvents, which specialized in phenolic resins. Thus, just before the war, Monsanto’s plastics interests included phenol-formaldehyde thermosetting resins, cellulose and vinyl plastics.
1939-1945: Monsanto conducts research on uranium for the Manhattan Project in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Charles Thomas, who later served as Monsanto’s chairman of the board, was present at the first test explosion of the atomic bomb. During World War II, Monsanto played a significant role in the Manhattan Project to develop the atom bomb. Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, the development of the first nuclear weapons and, after 1947, the Atomic Energy Commission.
1940s: Monsanto had begun focusing on plastics and synthetic fabrics like polystyrene (still widely used in food packaging and other consumer products), which is ranked 5th in the EPA’s 1980s listing of chemicals whose production generates the most total hazardous waste. From the 1940s onwards Monsanto was one of the top 10 US chemical companies.
1941: By the time the United States entered World War II, the domestic chemical industry had attained far greater independence from Europe. Monsanto, strengthened by its several acquisitions, was also prepared to produce such strategic materials as phosphates and inorganic chemicals. Most important was Monsanto’s acquisition of a research and development laboratory called Thomas and Hochwalt. The well-known Dayton, Ohio, firm strengthened Monsanto at the time and provided the basis for some of its future achievements in chemical technology. One of its most important discoveries was styrene monomer, a key ingredient in synthetic rubber and a crucial product for the armed forces during the war. Edward J. Bock joined Monsanto in 1941 as an engineer – he rose through the ranks to become a member of the board of directors in 1965 and president in 1968.
1943: Massive Texas City plant starts producing synthetic rubber for the Allies in World War II.
1944: Monsanto began manufacturing DDT, along with some 15 other companies. The use of DDT in the U.S. was banned by Congress in 1972.
1945: Following WW2, Monsanto championed the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture, and began manufacturing the herbicide 2,4,5-T, which contains dioxin. Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.
1949: Monsanto acquired American Viscose from England’s Courtauld family.
1950: Monsanto began to produce urethane foam – which was flexible, easy to use, and later became crucial in making automobile interiors.
1953: Toxicity tests on the effects of 2 PCBs showed that more than 50% of the rats subjected to them DIED, and ALL of them showed damage.
1954: Monsanto partnered with German chemical giant Bayer to form Mobay and market polyurethanes in the USA.
1955: Monsanto acquired Lion Oil refinery, increasing its assets by more than 50%. Stockholders during this time numbered 43,000. Monsanto starts producing petroleum-based fertilizer.
1957: Monsanto moved to the suburban community of Creve Coeur, having finally outgrown its headquarters in downtown St. Louis, Missouri.
1957-1967: Monsanto was the creator of several attractions in Disney’s Tommorrowland. Often they revolved around the the virtues of chemicals and plastics. Their “House of the Future” was constructed entirely of plastic, but it was NOT biodegradable. “After attracting a total of 20 million visitors from 1957 to 1967, Disney finally tore the house down, but discovered it would not go down without a fight. According to Monsanto Magazine, wrecking balls literally bounced off the glass-fiber, reinforced polyester material. Torches, jackhammers, chain saws and shovels did not work. Finally, choker cables were used to squeeze off parts of the house bit by bit to be trucked away.”
1959: Monsanto sets up Monsanto Electronics Co. in Palo Alto, begins producing ultra-pure silicon for the high-tech industry, in an area which would later become a Superfund site.
1960: Edgar Queeny turned over the chair of Monsanto to Charles Thomas, one of the founders of the research and development laboratory so important to Monsanto. Charlie Sommer, who had joined Monsanto in 1929, became president. According to Monsanto historian Dan Forrestal, “Leadership during the 1960s and early 1970s came principally from … executives whose Monsanto roots ran deep.” Under their combined leadership Monsanto saw several important developments, including the establishment of the Agricultural Chemicals division with focus on herbicides, created to consolidate Monsanto’s diverse agrichemical product lines.
agent orange1961-1971: Agent Orange was a mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D and had very high concentrations of dioxin. Agent Orange was by far the most widely used of the so-called “Rainbow Herbicides” employed in the Herbicidal Warfare program as a defoliant during the Vietnam War. Monsanto became one of 10-36 producers of Agent Orange for US Military operations in Vietnam. Dow Chemical and Monsanto were the two largest producers of Agent Orange for the U.S. military. The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange to Vietnam. This made Monsanto the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States, who faced an array of debilitating symptoms attributable to Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange is later linked to various health problems, including cancer. U.S. Vietnam War veterans have suffered from a host of debilitating symptoms attributable to Agent Orange exposure. Agent Orange contaminated more than 3,000,000 civilians and servicemen. According to Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, plus 500,000 children born with birth defects, leading to calls for Monsanto to be prosecuted for war crimes. Internal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange when it sold it to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam. Look at what the “EFFECTS” of agent orange look like… keep in mind it was used to remove leaves from the trees where AMERICAN SOLDIERS were breathing, eating, sleeping.
1962: Public concern over the environment began to escalate. Ralph Nader’s activities and Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring had been influential in increasing the U.S. public’s awareness of activities within the chemical industry in the 1960s, and Monsanto responded in several ways to the pressure.
1962: Monsanto’s European expansion continued, with Brussels becoming the permanent overseas headquarters.
1964: Monsanto changed its name to Monsanto Company in acknowledgment of its diverse product line. The company consisted of 8 divisions, including petroleum, fibers, building materials, and packaging. Edward O’Neal became chairperson (came to Monsanto in 1935 with the acquisition of the Swann Corporation) was the first chair in Monsanto history who had not first held the post of president.
1964: Monsanto introduced “biodegradable” detergents.
1965: While working on an ulcer drug in December, James M. Schlatter, a chemist at G.D. Searle & Company, accidentally discovers aspartame, a substance that is 180x sweeter than sugar yet has no calories.
1965: AstroTurf (fake grass) was co-invented by Donald L. Elbert, James M. Faria, and Robert T. Wright, employees of Monsanto Company. It was patented in 1967 and originally sold under the name “Chemgrass”. It was renamed AstroTurf by Monsanto employee John A. Wortmann after its first well-publicized use at the Houston Astrodome stadium in 1966.
1965: The evidence of widespread contamination from PCBs and related chemicals has been accumulating and internal Monsanto papers show that Monsanto knew about the PCB dangers from early on.
1967: Monsanto entered into a joint venture with IG Farben = the German chemical firm that was the financial core of the Hitler regime, and was the main supplier of Zyklon-B gas to the German government during the extermination phase of the Holocaust; IG Farben was not dissolved until 2003.
1967: Searle began the safety tests on aspartame that were necessary for applying for FDA approval of food additives. Dr. Harold Waisman, a biochemist at the University of Wisconsin, conducts aspartame safety tests on infant monkeys on behalf of the Searle Company. Of the 7 monkeys that were being fed aspartame mixed with milk, 1 monkey DIED and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures.
1968: Edgar Queeny dies, leaving no heirs. Edward J. Bock (who had joined Monsanto in 1941 as an engineer) become a member of the board of directors in 1965, and became president of Monsanto in 1968.
1968: With experts at Monsanto in no doubt that Monsanto’s PCBs were responsible for contamination, Monsanto set up a committee to assess its options. In a paper distributed to only 12 people but which surfaced at the trial in 2002, Monsanto admitted “that the evidence proving the persistence of these compounds and their universal presence as residues in the environment is beyond question … the public and legal pressures to eliminate them to prevent global contamination are inevitable”. Monsanto papers seen by The Guardian newspaper reveal near panic. “The subject is snowballing. Where do we go from here? The alternatives: go out of business; sell the hell out of them as long as we can and do nothing else; try to stay in business; have alternative products”, wrote the recipient of one paper.
1968: Monsanto became the first organization to mass-produce visible LEDs, using gallium arsenide phosphide to produce red LEDs suitable for indicators. Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) ushered in the era of solid-state lights. From 1968 to 1970, sales doubled every few months. Their products (discrete LEDs and seven-segment numeric displays) became the standards of industry. The primary markets then were electronic calculators, digital watches, and digital clocks.
1969: High overhead costs and a sluggish national economy led to a dramatic 29% decrease in earnings.
1969: Monsanto wrote a confidential Pollution Abatement Plan which admitted that “the problem involves the entire United States, Canada and sections of Europe, especially the UK and Sweden”.
1969: Monsanto produces Lasso herbicide, better known as Agent Orange, which was used as defoliant by the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War. “[Lasso’s] success turns around the struggling Agriculture Division,” Monsanto’s web page reads.
1970s: Monsanto was a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s. Although Bock had a reputation for being a committed Monsanto executive, several factors contributed to his volatile term as president. Sales were up in 1970, but Bock’s implementation of the 1971 reorganization caused a significant amount of friction among members of the board and senior management. In spite of the fact that this move, in which Monsanto separated the management of raw materials from Monsanto’s subsidiaries, was widely praised by security analysts, Bock resigned from the presidency in February 1972.Source