Food, Faith & Hope…that is the spin Monsanto gave to stockholders and the general public when plotting to change their image from the creators of life-destroying Agent Orange and PCBs to the humanitarian developers and pushers of Glyphosate weedkiller and GMO seeds. All of Monsanto’s legacy chemical products are now known to be toxic. And in one form or another, are still contaminating our lives. Their history is as convoluted as it has been profitable…”Once the lion of U.S. agriculture, Monsanto skulked off the historical stage and into the maw of its longtime rival Bayer, the sprawling German conglomerate, in 2018. The takeover marked a quiet exit for one the 21st century’s most controversial corporations—one that became embroiled in a pay-for-research academic scandal that made the New York Times’ front page, triggered an annual global “March against Monsanto” in the 2010s, and generated two massive sets of lawsuits regarding its blockbuster herbicides, glyphosate and dicamba.
“The brand and most of the media frenzy around Monsanto have evaporated, but the products that made the company worth $66 billion at the time of its sale linger. Glyphosate, whether carcinogenic or not—the question remains fiercely debated—turns up in rain and streams near farm fields, in grain-based food products like cereal and pasta, and probably in your body. In 2021, farmer complaints about off-target damage from dicamba raged through farm country for the sixth straight year. Seeds genetically altered by the company’s technicians to withstand those chemicals still proliferate in fields, in three crops (corn, soybeans, and cotton) that collectively cover more than half of U.S. farmland. These commodities form the material basis of our food supply: the feed for meat animals, and the sweeteners, fats, and thickeners that make processed foods so irresistible.
“What was Monsanto—how did it claw its way to such a central place in the food system, and what does its continued existence as an appendage of a German multinational corporation mean for our sustenance and the natural resources it relies on?”