Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen: The 12 Most Awful Products Made By Monsanto

monsanto_signWhen you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market. See if you can spot the pattern…

#1 – Saccharin

Did you know Monsanto got started because of an artificial sweetener? John Francisco Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Louis, Missouri with the goal of producing saccharin[1] for Coca-Cola. In stark contrast to its sweet beginnings, studies performed during the early 1970s[2],* including a study by the National Cancer Institute in 1980[3], showed that saccharin caused cancer in test rats[4] and mice.

After mounting pressure from consumers, the Calorie Control Council[5], and manufacturers of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas, along with additional studies[6] (several conducted by the sugar and sweetener industry) that reported flaws in the 1970s studies, saccharin was delisted from the NIH’s Carcinogen List. A variety of letters from scientists advised against delisting[7]; the official document includes the following wording[8] to this day: “although it is impossible to absolutely conclude that it poses no threat to human health, sodium saccharin is not reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen under conditions of general usage as an artificial sweetener.” (*Read the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s History of Saccharin[9] here.)

#2 – PCBs

During the early 1920s, Monsanto began expanding their chemical production into polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to produce coolant fluids for electrical transformers, capacitors, and electric motors. Fifty years later, toxicity tests[10] began reporting serious health effects[11] from PCBs in laboratory rats exposed to the chemical.

After another decade of studies, the truth could no longer be contained: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report[12] citing PCBs as the cause of cancer in animals, with additional evidence that they can cause cancer in humans. Additional peer-reviewed health studies showed a causal link between exposure to PCBs and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a frequently fatal form of cancer.

In 1979, the United States Congress recognized PCBs as a significant environmental toxin and persistent organic pollutant, and banned its production in the U.S.  By then Monsanto already had manufacturing plants abroad, so they weren’t entirely stopped until the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned PCBs globally in 2001.

And that’s when Monsanto’s duplicity was uncovered: internal company memos[13] from 1956 surfaced, proving that Monsanto had known about dangers of PCBs from early on.

In 2003, Monsanto paid out over $600 million to residents of Anniston, Alabama, who experienced severe health problems including liver disease, neurological disorders and cancer[14] after being exposed to PCBs — more than double the payoff that was awarded in the case against Pacific Gas & Electric made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”

And yet the damage persists: nearly 30 years after PCBs have been banned from the U.S., they are still showing up in the blood of pregnant women, as reported in a 2011 study[15] by the University of California San Francisco.

#3 – Polystyrene

In 1941, Monsanto began focusing on plastics and synthetic polystyrene, which is still widely used in food packaging and ranked 5th in the EPA’s 1980s listing of chemicals[16] whose production generates the most total hazardous waste.

#4 – Atom bomb and nuclear weapons

Shortly after acquiring Thomas and Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto turned this division into their Central Research Department[17]. Between 1943 to 1945, this department coordinated key production efforts of the Manhattan Project[18]—including plutonium purification and production and, as part of the Manhattan Project’s Dayton Project[19], techniques to refine chemicals used as triggers for atomic weapons (an era of U.S. history that sadly included the deadliest industrial accident[20]).

#5 – DDT

In 1944, Monsanto became one of the first manufacturers of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Despite decades of Monsanto propaganda insisting that DDT was safe, the true effects of DDT’s toxicity were at last confirmed through outside research and in 1972, DDT was banned throughout the U.S.

#6 – Dioxin

In 1945, Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture with the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T (one of the precursors to Agent Orange), containing dioxin. Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that since become known as one of the “Dirty Dozen[21]” — persistent environmental pollutants that accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. In the decades since it was first developed, Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.

#7 – Agent Orange

During the early 1960s, Monsanto was one of the two primary manufacturers of Agent Orange, an herbicide / defoliant used for chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Except Monsanto’s formula had dioxin levels many times higher than the Agent Orange produced by Dow Chemicals, the other manufacturer (which is why Monsanto was the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States).

(Pictured at left, Anh and Trang Nhan, with their father, when they first arrived at the Hoi An Orphanage; below are the same brothers shortly before Trang’s death. Source: Kianh Foundation Newsletter, Dec. 2011[22])

As a result of the use of Agent Orange, Vietnam estimates that over 400,000 people were killed or maimed, 500,000 children were born with birth defects, and up to 1 million people were disabled or suffered from health problems—not to mention the far-reaching impact it had on the health of over 3 million American troops and their offspring.

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. Despite the widespread health impact, Monsanto and Dow were allowed to appeal for and receive financial protection from the U.S. government against veterans seeking compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange.

In 2012, a long 50 years after Agent Orange was deployed, the clean-up effort has finally begun[23]. Yet the legacy of Agent Orange, and successive generations of body deformities[24], will remain in orphanages[25] throughout VietNam for decades to come.

(Think that can’t happen here? Two crops were recently genetically engineered[26] to withstand a weedkiller made with one of the major components of Agent Orange, 2,4-D[27], in order to combat “super weeds” that evolved due to the excessive use of RoundUp.)

8 – Petroleum-Based Fertilizer

In 1955, Monsanto began manufacturing petroleum-based fertilizer after purchasing a major oil refinery. Petroleum-based fertilizers can kill beneficial soil micro-organisms[28], sterilizing the soil and creating a dependence, like an addiction, to the synthetic replacements. Not the best addiction to have, considering the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil…

#9 – RoundUp

During the early 1970s, Monsanto founded their Agricultural Chemicals division with a focus on herbicides, and one herbicide in particular: RoundUp (glyphosate). Because of its ability to eradicate weeds literally overnight, RoundUp was quickly adopted by farmers. Its use increased even more when Monsanto introduced “RoundUp Ready” (glyphosate-resistant) crops, enabling farmers to saturate the entire field with weedkiller without killing the crops.

While glyphosate has been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide and is widely used, concerns about its effects on humans and the environment persist. RoundUp has been found in samples of groundwater[29], as well as soil[30], and even in streams and air[31] throughout the Midwest U.S., and increasingly in food. It has been linked to butterfly[32] mortality, and the proliferation of superweeds[33]. Studies in rats have shown consistently negative health impacts ranging from tumors, altered organ function, and infertility, to cancer and premature death. Reference the above “GMO Risks[34]” page which includes countless references to support these statements.

#10 – Aspartame (NutraSweet / Equal)

An accidental discovery during research on gastrointestinal hormones resulted in a uniquely sweet chemical: aspartame. During the clinical trials conducted on 7 infant monkeys as part of aspartame’s application for FDA approval, 1 monkey died and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures—yet somehow aspartame was still approved by the FDA in 1974. In 1985, Monsanto acquired the company responsible for aspartame’s manufacture (G.D. Searle) and began marketing the product as NutraSweet. Twenty years later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report listing 94 health issues[35] caused by aspartame.

#11 – Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

This genetically modified hormone was developed by Monsanto to be injected into dairy cows to produce more milk. Cows subjected to rBGH suffer excruciating pain due to swollen udders and mastitis[36], and the pus[37] from the resulting infection enters the milk supply[38] requiring the use of additional antibiotics. rBGH milk has been linked to breast cancer[39], colon cancer[40], and prostate cancer[41] in humans.

#12 – Genetically Modified Crops / GMOs

In the early 1990s, Monsanto began gene-splicing corn, cotton, soy, and canola with DNA from a foreign source to achieve one of two traits: an internally-generated pesticide, or an internal resistance to Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp. Despite decades of promises that genetically engineered crops would feed the world with more nutrients, drought resistance, or yield, the majority of Monsanto’s profits[42] are from seeds that are engineered to tolerate Monsanto’s RoundUp—an ever-rising, dual income stream as weeds continue to evolve resistance to RoundUp[43].

Most sobering however, is that the world is once again buying into Monsanto’s “safe” claims.

Just like the early days of PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Monsanto has successfully fooled the general public and regulatory agencies into believing that RoundUp, and the genetically modified crops that help sell RoundUp, are “safe.”

Except Monsanto has learned a thing or two in the past 100+ years of defending its dirty products: these days, when a new study proving the negative health or environmental impacts of GMOs emerges, Monsanto attacks the study and its scientist(s) by flooding the media with counter claims from “independent” organizations, scientists, industry associations, blogs, sponsored social media, and articles by “private” public relations firms—frequently founded, funded and maintained by Monsanto.

Unfortunately, few of us take the time to trace the members, founders, and relationships of these seemingly valid sources back to their little Monsanto secret.

Fooling the FDA[44] required a slightly different approach: click on the below chart compiled by Millions Against Monsanto[45] to see how many former Monsanto VPs and legal counsel are now holding positions with the FDA. And don’t forget Clarence Thomas, former Monsanto attorney who is now a Supreme Court Justice, ruling in favor of Monsanto in every case brought before him.


A Baker’s Dozen: #13 – Terminator Seeds

In the late 1990s, Monsanto developed the technology to produce sterile grains unable to germinate. These “Terminator Seeds[46]” would force farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto year after year, rather than save and reuse the seeds from their harvest as they’ve been doing throughout centuries. Fortunately this technology never came to market. Instead, Monsanto chose to require farmers to sign a contract agreeing that they will not save or sell seeds from year to year, which forces them to buy new seeds and preempts the need for a “terminator gene.” Lucky for us… since the terminator seeds were capable of cross-pollination and could have contaminated local non-sterile crops.

What’s the Result of our Monsanto Legacy?

Between 75% to 80% of the processed food[47] you consume every day has GMOs inside, and residues of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide outside. But it’s not just processed food—fresh fruit and vegetables are next: genetically engineered sweet corn[48] is already being sold at your local grocer, with apples and a host of other “natural” produce currently in field trials.

How is it that Monsanto is allowed to manipulate our food after such a dark product history? How is it they are allowed to cause such detrimental impact to our environment and our health?

According to the Organic Consumers Association[49], “There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the U.S. spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.

Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, U.S. factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—backed by farm subsidies[50]—while organic farmers receive no such subsidies.

Monsanto’s history reflects a consistent pattern of toxic chemicals, lawsuits, and manipulated science. Is this the kind of company we want controlling our world’s food supply?

P.S. Monsanto’s not alone. Other companies in the “Big Six” include Pioneer Hi-Bred International[51] (a subsidiary of DuPont), Syngenta AG[52], Dow Agrosciences[53] (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, BASF[54] (which is primarily a chemical company that is rapidly expanding their biotechnology division, and Bayer Cropscience[55] (a subsidiary of Bayer).

Click here to show sources


Original article on GMO Awareness

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  • Paul Parkinson

    Where are the links in the square brackets? You have references marked but no links [15], [23], [35]??
    Let’s have some links please – or was this copy/pasted from somewhere else? If so, reference your sources!

  • SageThinker

    A kid died last year of PCBs exposure here near the Housatonic River that’s poisoned by General Electric.

  • Mike Doverskog

    Are you even aware of the difference between Monsanto now and Monsanto then?
    The first Monsanto was Monsanto Chemical, a company that manufactured food additives, industrial chemicals, and plastics. This Monsanto no longer exists. Pfizer bought this Monsanto in 2002.The other Monsanto is Monsanto the seed company. In 1996, Monsanto (the chemical company) bought an agricultural company. In 2002, when Pfizer bought Monsanto (the chemical company), they weren’t interested in the agribusiness, so they spun off the agricultural company as Monsanto (the seed company). Monsanto (the seed company) was distinct from Monsanto (the chemical company), with its own bylaws, a different board of directors, and different management from Monsanto (the chemical company). Monsanto (the seed company) kept the name “Monsanto” because they felt it would be expensive to change. Changing the name, they estimated, would cost $40 million.
    So when you talk about Monsanto now and Monsanto then you are talking about two completely different entities. Blaming the current Monsanto for chemicals produced pre the Pfizer buyout is like blaming the current government of Bulgaria for abuses perpetrated by the communist government of The Peoples Republic of Bulgaria before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990.
    I am not acting as an apologist for the unethical activities undertaken by the current agricultural Monsanto but misinformation does not help an honest cause.

  • Ainos3

    Monsanto uses transgenic (genetically modified food) , something that kill people, government should do something about it, but there is a lot of money involved that makes impossible to do something about it.DO NOT BUY MONSANTO BRANDS.

    • Robin S

      it’s just 2 things I cannot live without Best foods Mayo and I forgot the other one.

    • Mike Doverskog

      Please, don’t get me wrong (especially hot head Mike Alvarez) but can you please show me what genetically modified food kills people. The ability to genetically modify food has been with us for thousands of years. It is thanks to the ability to genetically modify rice (by cross fertilization and trait selection) to grow in colder climates that indian tribes managed to grow rice further and further north on the american continent. It is by selective and cross breeding cattle, pigs, sheep etc. for thousands of years that we have specialized breeds for milk production, meat production, heat or cold tolerant breeds.
      Genetically modified is too broad a term to use to indicate dangerous. I am asking for more specific information and I am asking that people who are concerned about the practices of genetic modification to think deeper than the two words, right down into the science of it.
      Yes genetic modification to produce infertile seed is harmful as farmers then can’t use part of their crop to grow next season’s crop but get tied into buying their seed from big business suppliers. Yes, some genetically modified crops may be harmful to insect life and therefore to the whole food chain dependent on those insects. More understanding means more firepower.
      Mike Alvarez, do you understand where I come from now?

      • Ainos3

        some people here are missing the point. I guess they are part of Monsanto’s family.

      • Petal3104

        Keep buying and eating and using GMO foods and products from Monsanto and let me know how your health is a few years from now. For example, the Roundup resistant GMO corn.

  • roger

    TYPICAL LIBERAL BULLS…CAN’T TELL THE TRUTH SO LIE…..Liberals and the democratic party are doing to this country what the NAZIS tried to do in GERMANY.

    • disqus_BT68PJqA20

      TAKE OFF YOUR BLINDERS!!! or you hat, whichever fits. If you think for one minute that much of this is false then good luck to ya

      • noitall

        Not only is much of this false, but much more is misleading. And to the part that may be true, I say SO WHAT, Monsanto does what any company tries to do and that is make money. That is the way it is in our capitalistic society.
        I used to be able to say… If you don’t like it, move to Russia or China, but now they are more capitalistic than you are. I would guess that if you watch the news, you tune in to CNN or MSNBC and have totally swallowed their liberal socialistic BS.

        • Mike Alvarez

          ” And to the part that may be true, I say SO WHAT, Monsanto does what any company tries to do and that is make money. ”

          HERE WE GO ! Another Monsanto puppet FREAK !!!
          How many more of them defending MONSATAN ?


    • Mike Doverskog

      What the fuck has liberalism to do with this, you uneducated asshat. If you at least tried to educate yourself in politics and ideologies before spouting your bullshit you might avoid flaunting your idiocy to the world.

      • Mike Alvarez

        And you “educated” Monsanto puppet ! You should be ashamed of yourself !

        • Mike Doverskog

          Can you get it into your thick skull that I am NOT defending Monsanto. I am defending the campaign against Monsanto from shitspouting conspiracy theorists who actually hurt that cause by ruining the credibility of claims against Monsanto. If anything you say against Monsanto is going to stick you need credible backup. making shit up is not the way to go.

          • Trump Truther (Rockstar Spud)

            Did it ever occur to you of the possibility of Monsanto paying operatives to spew whackjob conspiracy theories in order to discredit opposition against Monsanto?

          • Mike Doverskog

            So, is this your conspiracy theory about the conspiracy theories in themselves being conspiracies? No, I’m going to put that idea out of my head before I go into paranoia overdrive. 😀

          • Broken Matt Hardy (Rock* Spud)

            Case in point: When Alex Jones claims that Monsanto is planting “spider DNA” in apples to make GMO apples which don’t turn brown.

            And Alex Jones has been known to invite people from Monsanto front groups in order to attack groups such as PETA. (Look for an interview he conducted with Daily Mail’a David Martosko when Martosko worked for the Center for Consumer Freedom which is a known Monsanto front group.

            Sometimes I wonder if Alex Jones is paid to discredit anti-GMO activists with his whackadoodle GMO troofer crap.

  • Hoth

    I LOLed reading this. With the exceptions of#2 and #6, it’s a wildly inaccurate list.

  • rejectrepublicanlies

    I am very familiar with the inner workings of Monsanto and it’s as bad as you think. They’ve always had Republicans and even Democrats like Bill Clinton, in their pockets. Several of their ex CEOs are huge donors to the GOP and they don’t give a damn about the public or your health. Their mission is to monopolize the food supply. Nestle will take water and the Koch Brothers will take energy.

    • Mike Doverskog

      Monsanto may be bad but debating with misinformation only makes their opponents look just as bad.

      • Mike Alvarez

        ” Monsanto may be bad”? You kidding me? Monsanto IS bad and should be called Monsatan !
        How much did they pay you for spreading the “right information” on the forums?

        • Mike Doverskog

          Hey, that’s uncalled for and unfair. What on earth makes you think I have anything to do with Monsanto? I just don’t like when people harm the credibility of campaigns I care about by using unsubstantiated, or in worst case false, claims. If you take a moment to calm your ass down you might realise we’re actually on the same side here.

  • Your1Friend

    What a legacy.

  • Darren M Gomes

    Saccharin dates back to 1878, Monsanto wasn’t founded until 1901. Saccharin was already in mass production at that time and was in heavy use as a sugar substitute during World War I, as sugar was in very short supply.

    • Carson Y.

      The article says Monsanto got started by producing saccharin. It did not say Monsanto invented saccharin.

    • Grydian

      Until 1901 Saccharin was made in Germany. Monsanto was founded to produce Saccharin in the US.

  • Craig T.

    Does anyone else notice that there are more citations than there are sources listed?
    How about a vast majority of the citations are from blogs which are already friendly to this side of the argument?
    A quick counts puts it at roughly 7 sources which look legitimate. (Out of 55, only 50 of which are actually sourced.)
    Not saying someone’s trying to mislead you…but you probably should do some fact-checking before you take this as gospel.

    • noitall

      You seem to be a reasonable person. You have guessed that this thread is extremely prejudicial. They bend their facts so far there is little resemblance to the truth. Their beliefs are faith based similar to a religion. Therefore trying to change their minds with true facts is about as affective as the missionaries that go door to door.

    • Mike T

      I was skeptical of this list, and figured they would not have any sources (like many articles of this kind), but lo and behold there they were! So I decided to actually check one of them. I picked one that seemed concerning, that milk from rBGH-treated cows has been linked to breast cancer (#39). I read the whole journal article, and it says no such thing. In fact is says the opposite! I’m not going to bother looking into other links since this is so shoddily researched. I think the author expects those who already agree or are on the fence to just look at the long list of references and say “well, it must be true!”

  • gardengypsy

    1) Watch Vermont as it fights Monsanto, 2) Spend as much money as you can afford at the farmer’s markets and your coops and your hippie food store, 3) grow a garden using open-pollinated/heirloom seeds only, 4) Do not buy any Monsanto products, 5) talk about this a lot.