The greater part of the 20th century was about industrial and chemical innovations, and as a leader (?) in various fields, Monsanto was there.


Having spent the entire 20th century in pursuit of profit through science, here's a chronology of MONSANTO's pursuits over their first 100 years; from Saccharin to aspirin, from Agent Orange to Round Up.


saccharin image

1901–Founder John Francis Queeny names Monsanto Chemical Works after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto. 

1902–The company manufactures its first product, Saccharin. The U.S. government later files suit over the safety of Saccharin, but loses.

1917–Monsanto starts producing aspirin.

1929–Monsanto acquires Rubber Services Laboratories

1935–Monsanto goes into the soap and detergents industry, starts producing phosphorus.

1938–The company goes into the plastic business.

1939-1945–Monsanto conducts research on uranium for the Manhattan Project in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Charles Thomas, who later served as the company's chairman of the board, was present at the first test explosion of the atomic bomb.

1943–Massive Texas City plant starts producing synthetic rubber for the Allies in World War II.

1955–Monsanto buys Lion Oil refinery, starts producing petroleum-based fertilizer.

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.

ddt-household-pests-usda-mar47c21969–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.

1976–RoundUp is commercialized, becoming the world's top-selling herbicide.

1976–Monsanto produces Cycle-Safe, the world's first plastic soft-drink bottle. The bottle, suspected of posing a cancer risk, is banned the following year by the Food and Drug Administration.

1981–G.D. Searle gets FDA approval for NutraSweet (Monsanto completes its acquisition of Searle in 1985).

1982–Monsanto scientists genetically modify a plant for the first time. 

1986–Monsanto found guilty of negligently exposing a worker to benzene at its Chocolate Bayou Plant in Texas. It is forced to pay $100 million to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen, a worker who died of leukemia after repeated exposures.

1986–At a 1986 congressional hearing, medical specialists denounce a National Cancer Institute study disputing that formaldehyde causes cancer. Monsanto and DuPont scientists helped with the study, whose author provided results to the Formaldehyde Institute industry representatives nearly six months before releasing the study to the EPA, labor unions and the public.

1986–Monsanto spends $50,000 against California's anti-toxics initiative, Proposition 65. The initiative prohibits the discharge of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects into drinking water supplies.

1987–Monsanto is one of the companies named in an $180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Monsanto_450w

1988–A federal jury finds Monsanto Co.'s subsidiary, G.D. Searle & Co., negligent in testing and marketing of its Copper 7 intrauterine birth control device (IUD). The verdict followed the unsealing of internal documents regarding safety concerns about the IUD, which was used by nearly 10 million women between 1974 and 1986.

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.

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

1993–The Food and Drug Administration approves Posilac bovine somatropin (BST).

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

1995–Monsanto 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. Company officials argue that numerous studies have found no link to cancer.

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.

1999–Monsanto opens its Beautiful Sciences exhibit at Disneyland.

corn grenade1999–After international criticism, Monsanto agrees not to commercialize "Terminator" seeds.

2000–Merges with Pharmacia & Upjohn, changes its name to Pharmacia Corporation.


Lots of interesting events here, but most telling is the ongoing battle, almost from the very beginning (1902 – The U.S. government later files suit over the safety of Saccharin, but loses) with Government regulators in a number of areas.


Further details can be found at this post and also here

Original source for this post

  1. Hey Laura.
    Glad you like the post and thanks for the links.
    And you are so right about the labelling laws. On the small scale , I’m so glad the we are in a position to grow food ourselves and share it with other like-minded people.

  2. You’ve got to get the labeling laws in place. And if you let them get off by not labeling ingredients like they do in the US you will NEVER know what you are buying! They keep it off our labels because they know Americans won’t buy FrankenFoods. Keep up the good work! I’m putting links to you all over my site.
    I mentioned Prince Charles on my garden blog too. I got a comment from a GM shill telling me how jealous Australian farmers are of the US. Such lies they tell!

  3. Hmmm… thanks Darren for commenting.
    Given that Princes and other heads of state are usually masters of diplomacy, for me his comments went as far as he could go without actually naming Monsanto – “Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of “gigantic corporations” taking over the mass production of food.”
    Maybe we need to send him a copy of the just released DVD “The World According To Monsanto” which will lift the profile of the impact GM foods have in the US. Bring it on, I say.

  4. The point Charles missed is that GM is for Monsanto to take ownership of everything.

    • The claim should be easy egounh to confirm as either or both companies should need to disclose all ownership interests in any and all filings with the SEC, among other governmental agencies. Personally, I’ve been creeped out by the vampiric energy of Whole Foods since the original sale from the original founders and have definitely stopped shopping at Whole Foods after they bought Wild Oats and the debacle that reflected the degraded ethics of Whole Foods in that shift. But, Whole Foods serve a market for those who are not quite yet as sensitive to the wholistic connection of money, food, energy every place has its place in the transition to a higher vibration. Whole Foods is not my choice for me, but it definitely helps many people find their way to a different way of thinking about food and their bodies.

Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast