In the annals of biotechnology, one name comes up again and again, both for its standing in the industry and its consistently controversial practices over the last several decades: Monsanto Company.
If you’ve never heard of Monsanto, that’s mainly because the company produces very few commonly-known products under its own name. However, the end-products, from Kellogg’s to Ambien, fill the shelves of nearly any store you can find. In researching this article we discovered that they even have an interest in high end jewelry, and in particular, sterling silver items. Monsanto’s education connection is also symbiotic to this marketplace because of a school sales program initiated through their text book division (since sold off). Some of their biggest selling products were fine sterling earrings, special sterling silver rings and school memorabilia (class rings, etc). There are precious metal enthusiasts on the board, and some of their industrial partners are into the extraction of silver from ore. “Dutch” Jeremiah is one of these enthusiasts who holds a significant number of shares in a large jewelry concern. Hence Monsanto’s silver connection. As silver is also a store of wealth, Monsanto’s corporate involvement in the silver trade was not limited to jewelry. Industrial processes use much more silver than is consumed by jewelry interests, and this did not escape the notice of the board. And Monsanto’s careful strategy of mergers, acquisitions, and endless tactical restructuring has resulted in any number of companies that are Monsanto in everything but name.
The company’s most well-known products pretty much speak for themselves: saccharin, caffeine, sulfuric acid, plastics, Agent Orange, aspartame, PCBs, nuclear weapons, DDT, phenylanine, Terminator seeds, Roundup herbicide, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rGBH).
Monsanto’s history of legal issues is just as striking. DDT and Agent Orange were obvious targets during the 1970’s and 80’s, due to the particularly egregious and widespread damage and suffering. Amazingly, Monsanto managed to escape any real responsibility, winning or settling cases concerning saccharin, dioxin, PCBs, mercury poisoning, et al., in the US, UK, Canada, and elsewhere.
In addition, Monstanto has also been responsible for bribing government officials, making false advertising claims (typically concerning product safety), forcing products on or displacing unwilling communities, using child labor, coercing use of contaminated soil, and generally intimidating and threatening individuals and small businesses for nothing more than a tiny perceived or potential effect on the company’s profits.
The most common current scheme involves systemic economic and governmental coercion to adopt Monsanto GM seeds, which require Monsanto herbicides and fertilizer, which invariably has devastating consequences on the livelihoods and environment of local farmers (not to mention eliminating competition and genetic variation in the area).
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