Monday, November 25, 2013

MONSANTO'S DARK HISTORY - 1901-2013 - PART VIII


1990: EPA chemists allege fraud in Monsanto's 1979 dioxin study, which found exposure to the chemical doesn't increase cancer risks.

1990: Monsanto spends more than $405,000 to defeat California's pesticide regulation Proposition 128, known as the "Big Green" initiative. The initiative is aimed at phasing out the use of pesticides, including Monsanto's product alachlor, linked to cancer and global warming.

1990: With the help of Roundup, the agriculture division of Monsanto was significantly outperforming Monsanto's chemicals division in terms of operating income, and the gap was increasing. But as Glover notes, while "such a blockbuster product uncorks a fountain of revenue", it "also creates an uncomfortable dependency on the commercial fortunes of a single brand. Monsanto's management knew that the last of the patents protecting Roundup in the United States, its biggest market, would expire in the year 2000, opening the field to potential competitors. The company urgently needed a strategy to negotiate this hurdle and prolong the useful life of its 'cash cow'."

1991: Monsanto is fined $1.2 million for trying to conceal discharge of contaminated waste water into the Mystic River in Connecticut.

1993: By April, the Department of Veterans Affairs had only compensated 486 victims, although it had received disability **CLAIMS** from 39,419 veteran soldiers who had been exposed to monsanto's Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam. No compensation has been paid to Vietnamese civilians and though some compensation was paid to U.S. veterans, according to William Sanjour, who led the Toxic Waste Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "thousands of veterans were disallowed benefits" because "Monsanto studies showed that dioxin [as found in Agent Orange] was not a human carcinogen." An EPA colleague discovered that Monsanto had apparently falsified the data in their studies. Sanjour says, "If [the studies] were done correctly, they would have reached just the opposite result."
 
1994: the first of Monsanto's biotech products to make it to market was not a GMO crop but Monsanto's controversial GMO cattle drug, bovine growth hormone - called rBGH or rBST, Monsanto granted regulatory approval for its first biotech product, a dairy cow hormone. Monsanto developed a recombinant version of BST, brand-named Posilac bovine somatropin (rBST/rBGH), which is produced through a genetically engineered GMO E. coli bacteria. Synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), approved by the FDA for commercial sale in 1994, despite strong concerns about its safety. Since then, Monsanto has sued small dairy companies that advertised their products as free of the artificial hormone, including Ben & Jerry's ice cream and most recently bringing a lawsuit against Oakhurst Dairy in Maine.
 
1995: Genetically engineered canola (rapeseed) which is tolerant to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide was first introduced to Canada. Today 80% of the acres sown are genetically modified canola.

1995: Monsanto is sued after allegedly supplying radioactive material for a controversial study which involved feeding radioactive iron to 829 pregnant women.

1995: Monsanto ranked 5th among U.S. corporations in EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, having discharged 37 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, land, water and underground. Monsanto was ordered to pay $41.1 million to a waste management company in Texas due to concerns over hazardous waste dumping.
 
1995: The Safe Shoppers Bible says that Monsanto's Ortho Weed-B-Gon Lawn Weed Killer contains a known carcinogen, 2,4 D. Monsanto officials argue that 'numerous studies have found no link to cancer'.

1996: Monsanto introduces its first biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, which tolerate spraying of Roundup herbicide, and biotech BT cotton engineered to resist insect damage.
As Monsanto had moved into biotechnology, its executives had the opportunity to create a new narrative for Monsanto. They begun to portray genetic engineering as a ground-breaking technology that could contribute to feeding a hungry world. Monsanto executive Robb Fraley, who was head of the plant molecular biology research team, is also said to have hyped the potential of GMO crops within the company, as a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Monsanto to dominate a whole new industry, invoking the monopoly success of Microsoft as a powerful analogy. But, according to Glover, the more down-to-earth pitch to fellow executives was that "genetic engineering offered the best prospect of preserving the commercial life of Monsanto's most important product, Roundup in the face of the challenges Monsanto would face once the patent expired."

Monsanto eventually achieved this by introducing into crop plants genes that give resistance to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup). This meant farmers could spray Roundup onto their fields as a weedkiller even during the growing season without harming the crop. This allowed Monsanto to "significantly expand the market for Roundup and, more importantly, help Monsanto to negotiate the expiry of its glyphosate patents, on which such a large slice of Monsanto's income depended." With glyphosate-tolerant GMO crops, Monsanto was able ├Čto preserve its dominant share of the glyphosate market through a marketing strategy that would couple proprietary "Roundup Ready" seeds with continued sales of Roundup.

1996-1999: Monsanto sold off its plastics business to Bayer in 1996, and its phenylalanine facilities to Great Lakes Chemical Corporation (GLC) in 1999. Much of the rest of its chemicals division was spun off in late 1997 as Solutia. This helped Monsanto distance itself to some extent not only from direct financial liability for the historical core of its business but also from its controversial production and contamination legacy.
 
1997: Monsanto introduces new GMO canola (rapeseed), GMO cotton and GMO corn (maize), and buys foundation seed companies.

1997: Monsanto spins off its industrial chemical and fibers business into Solutia Inc. amid complaints and legal claims about pollution from its plants. Solutia was spun off from Monsanto as a way for Monsanto to divest itself of billions of dollars in environmental cleanup costs and other liabilities for its past actions - liabilities that eventually forced Solutia to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to a spokesman for Solutia, "(Monsanto) sort of cherry-picked what they wanted and threw in all kinds of cats and dogs as part of a going-away present," including $1 billion in debt and environmental and litigation costs. Some pre-bankruptcy Solutia equity holders allege Solutia was set up fraudulently as it was always doomed to fail under the financial weight of Monsanto's liabilities.

1997: The New York State Attorney General took Monsanto to court and Monsanto was subsequently forced to stop claiming that Roundup is "biodegradable" and "environmentally friendly".

1997: The Seattle Times reports that Monsanto sold 6,000 tons of contaminated waste to Idaho fertilizer companies, which contained the carcinogenic heavy metal cadmium, believed to cause cancer, kidney disease, neurological dysfunction and birth defects.

1997: Through a process of mergers and spin-offs between 1997 and 2002, Monsanto made a transition from chemical giant to biotech giant. Monsanto's corporate strategy led them for the first time to acquire seed companies. During the 1990s Monsanto spent $10 billion globally buying up seed companies - a push that continues to this day. It has purchased, for example, Holden's Foundations Seeds, Seminis - the largest seed company not producing corn or soybeans in the world, the Dutch seed company De Ruiter Seeds, and the big cotton seed firm Delta & Pine. As a result, Monsanto is now the world's largest seed company, accounting for almost a quarter of the global proprietary seed market.
 
1998: Monsanto introduces Roundup Ready corn (maize).

1998: In the UK, Monsanto purchased the seed company Plant Breeding International (PBI) Cambridge, a major UK based cereals and potato breeder, which Monsanto then merged with its existing UK agri-chemicals and GMO research businesses to form Monsanto UK Ltd. Monsanto UK has carried out field trials of glyphosate-tolerant sugar / fodder beet, glyphosate-tolerant oilseed rape, and glyphosate-tolerant and male sterility / fertility restorer oilseed rape.

1998: "Survey of aspartame studies: correlation of outcome and funding sources," unpublished: Ralph G. Walton found 166 separate published studies in the peer reviewed medical literature, which had relevance for questions of human safety. The 74 studies funded by industry all (100%) attested to aspartame's safety, whereas of the 92 non-industry funded studies, 84 (91%) identified a problem. 6 of the 7 non-industry funded studies that were favorable to aspartame safety were from the FDA, which has a public record that shows a strong pro-industry bias.

1999: After international criticism, Monsanto agrees not to [PUBLICLY] commercialize "Terminator" seeds.

1999: Monsanto opens its Beautiful Sciences exhibit at Disneyland.

1999: Monsanto sells their phenylalanine facilities to Great Lakes Chemical Corporation (GLC) for $125 million. In 2000, GLC sued Monsanto because of a $71 million dollar shortfall in expected sales.

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