The French documentary, The World According to Monsanto (Le Monde du Monsanto), calls the agrichemical company, Monsanto, “one of the most controversial companies in the industrial age.” The reason Monsanto is so controversial can best be explained by listing the products it has created: Roundup, genetically engineered seeds, Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Monsanto is still a controversial company. A recent ruling in France’s highest court found Monsanto has not been truthful about the safety of its herbicide Roundup. The ruling confirmed a previous judgment against Monsanto that it falsely advertised Roundup as biodegradable and claimed it “left the soil clean.” The court fined the company 15,000 euros ($22,400).
A French environmental group sued Monsanto in 2001, claiming Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, is classed “dangerous for the environment” by the European Union (EU). Monsanto reported a fourth quarter loss of $233 million, “driven mostly by a drop in sales of its Roundup brand,” according to the BBC. Stil, Roundup is the world’s best selling herbicide.
The state attorney general of New York in 1996 fined Monsanto $50,000 for its advertisement which claimed its glyphosate base spray-on herbicides, including Roundup, were safer than table salt.
U.S. Department of Justice investigating Monsanto
Recently, Christine Varney, chief of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division said that “competition issues affecting agriculture have been a priority for me.” Monsanto revealed earlier this month that the DOJ is questioning it for possible violations of anti-trust laws related to its control of genetically engineered seeds.
In 2007, Monsanto acquired the cottonseed company Delta and Pine Land and controlled half of the U.S. cottonseed market as a result. Federal regulators required the company to divest itself of a cottonseed company it already owned which controlled 12 percent of the market, plus amend its licensing policies to allow other companies to combine Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds with their own.
Monsanto sued DuPont for intellectual property infringement, and DuPont countersued, accusing Monsanto of unlawful anti-competitive behavior. Monsanto is the world’s largest seed company and fifth largest agrochemical company. DuPont is world’s second largest seed company and sixth largest agrochemical company.
Worldwide protests held against Monsanto on October 16
October 16 was declared International Food Day by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN. In honor of the day, La Via Campesina mobilized allies globally to protest Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Actions were held in at least 20 countries and regions, including in Maine and Wisconsin.
“It’s time for all civil society to recognize the gravity of this situation, global capital should not control our food, nor make decisions behind closed doors. The future of our food, the protection of our resources and especially our seeds, are the right of the people,” said Dena Hoff, coordinator of Via Campesina North America.
This is the first installment of a series about Monsanto and other large agrochemical companies, including DuPont.