Timeline of Monsanto's Dark History
|1901: 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
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
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
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
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
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 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".