Monsanto Corporate Profile

Monsanto is one of the world's leading pesticide manufacturers and is the global leader in agricultural biotechnology. Between 1996 and 1998, Monsanto followed a strategy of buying out and forming relationships with the majority of U.S. and international seed companies.  Many of these seeds were Roundup Ready (seeds genetically engineered for resistance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's most popular herbicide, Roundup).

July 2010


Monsanto at a Glance

Headquarters St. Louis , Missouri

Key subsidiaries Cargill Seeds, DEKALB Genetics, First Line Seed, Mahyco (Maharasta Hybrid Seed Co), Plant Breeding International, Asgrow, Calgene, Holden's Foundation Seeds Inc., Sementes Agroceres, Agracetus, Monsoy [1]

Product sectors Agricultural Productivity (56%), Seeds & Genomics (44%) [2]

Full Time Employees 22,900 [3]

Sales Distribution North America (54%), Latin America (22%), Europe-Africa (17%), , Asia-Pacific (7%) [2]

Revenues In fiscal year 2009 revenue was US$11.7 billion [3]

Net income In fiscal year 2009, Monsanto earned US$2.1 billion [3]

Executive compensation 2008 pay (salary, bonuses, etc): CEO Hugh Grant US$2,460,000; CFO Carl Casale, US$819,000; Chief Technology Officer Robert Fraley, US$893,000; Exec VP of Global Commercial Brett Begemann, US$797,000. [3]

Type of corporation Public (traded on the New York Stock Exchange)

Pesticides and Agricultural Biotechnology

Monsanto's booming  pesticide sales has helped to place the company in a dominant position in the agricultural biotechnology market.


Monsanto is responsible for a wide range of harmful pesticide products and ingredients, including:

Alachlor Widely used herbicide and likely carcinogen. EPA has detected alachlor at levels above the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) in groundwater in 15 states. [4] In 1984, Monsanto conducted a series of groundwater contamination tests as part of a successful re-registration effort for alachlor. These tests, however, suffered from biased sampling, in which sites were picked so as to minimize the potential for alachlor explosure. [5] Alachlor generates tens of millions of dollars in sales annually for Monsanto. [5]

Atrazine Second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. [6] According to the Environmental Working Group, atrazine has been found to induce mammary cancer in repeated studies of female rats. [7] According to a report released by the same organization, atrazine was present in the tap water of 28 out of 29 cities tested. [7]

Butachlor Carcinogenic herbicide, never registered in the U.S. but produced by Monsanto for export. [8] Long-term health studies submitted by Monsanto were rejected by EPA. EPA cited “residue, environmental, fish and wildlife, and toxicological” concerns with the chemical. [8]

Carbaryl Carbaryl acts on insects and other living organisms by inhibiting acetyl cholinesterase, and preventing proper transmission of messages by the nervous system. [9] Carbaryl is moderately to very toxic. In humans, acute effects of carbaryl exposure include headaches, nausea, coordination problems, and difficulty breathing. It also suppresses the immune system. [9]

Dioxin A highly toxic ingredient in Agent Orange, the herbicide used on 6 million acres of forest in Vietnam. Many of Monsanto's other products have ended up contaminated with dioxin, although Monsanto refularly fails to inform the EPA or consumers about this. At one point, the company told the EPA that it wasn't able to use it's own labs to test products for dioxin because it was too toxic to handle.[10]

Glyphosate (Roundup) Popular, broad-spectrum herbicide. In 2000, Monsanto began losing market share as its U.S. glyphosate patent expired. [11] More recently, sales have risen. In 2004, Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides comprised US$709 million of the company's gross profit. The evolution of glyphosate-resistant horseweed, ryegrass, waterhemp and goosegrass have created concern about the long-term viability of glyphosate application techniques. [12]

Methyl-parathion Insecticide that can damage the central nervous system and lead to dizziness, vomiting, tremors, blurred vision and death. [13]According to the Environmental Working Group, an estimated 320,000 children aged one to five consume methyl parathion in excess of the reference (or “acceptable”) dose every day. [14] Methyl parathion is a neurotoxicant and a World Health Organization class 1 extremely hazardous chemical.

Toxaphene Carcinogenic and acutely toxic insecticide that can persist in soil for as many as 12 years. [15] Toxaphene is found at high levels in fish. [15] EPA considers toxaphene a persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic pollutant. [16]

Agricultural Biotechnology

Monsanto is a pioneer in agricultural biotechnology. It produces genetically altered seeds for crops that are resistant to herbicide and to insects (“Bt crops,” which are engineered to contain a bacterial toxin). The company estimates that it controls more than 70% of the world's insect- and herbicide-resistant crops. [17] The company developed and patented so-called “Terminator technology,” in which plants are engineered to be sterile so that growers must purchase new seeds. [18] Monsanto, which owns numerous patents for transgenic seeds, has sought to protect its interests through aggressive legal action against farmers. [19] In the mid-1990's, Monsanto commercialized recombinant (genetically engineered) bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a hormone used to increase milk. [20]

Monsanto has become a poster child for the risks and harms posed by the agricultural biotechnology industry. In addition to its market dominance and aggressive behavior, the company has sometimes made unpopular public statements. For example, Phil Angel, former director of corporate communications at Monsanto, stated that “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job.” [21]

The company has also continued it’s forceful marketing campaign abroad. In January of 2005, Monsanto had to pay 1.5 million US dollars in penalties to the US government over a bribe paid in Indonesia in a bid to bypass controls on the screening controls of GE crops[22] GE cotton, also know as “Bt Cotton”, has done untold damage in India. Monsanto claimed that Bt cotton would reduce pest damage, but not only did it fail to control the target pest, the presence of other pests increased. A Cornell University study showed that after 7 years of planting Bt Cotton, farmers were actually using more pesticides than those who planted conventional cotton. The GE plants also produce a lower-quality fiber, which means farmers growing Bt Cotton have a net income that is five times less than the yield from local non-Bt varieties. The GE cotton seeds cost 3 times as much as their conventional counterparts, creating a downward spiral of debt and despair that has pushed an estimated 125,000 Indian farmers to commit suicide

Genetically engineered crops pose serious risks to public health and the environment, increase reliance on pesticides, deepen agribusiness control over farmers and undermine food security and sovereignty. Most biotech seeds are licensed to farmers, not sold: making it illegal to replant, save, trade, share or breed them as farmers have done for millennia. Global food security requires access to land, small-scale, ecologically based farming systems and the crop diversity needed to respond to varied and changing environments and growing conditions. Genetically engineered crops, in contrast, are an extension of industrial agricultural practices that concentrate land ownership, rely on synthetic pesticides, fertilizers and other off-farm inputs, and dramatically reduce crop biodiversity.

A Wide Range of Impacts

Monsanto's social and environmental impacts are very broad:

Hazardous wastes Monsanto is a potentially responsible party for at least 93 Superfund sites. [23] Four of Monsanto's industrial facilities in the U.S. rank amongst the worst 40% of comparable facilities in total toxic releases. [24]

Recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH, rBST) Monsanto brought rBGH to market in the mid-1990's amidst allegations that it prevented three British scientists from publishing a study regarding rBGH's impact on animal health. Furthermore, the company purportedly violated federal law by illegally promoting the hormone prior to rBGH's FDA approval, manipulated high-level government contacts to gain approval, and attempted to bribe Health Canada officials to approve it in Canada . [25] Monsanto has threatened and sometimes sued food companies that have labeled their products as rBGH-free. For example, Monsanto sued Oakhurst Dairy for including the statement that its milk contains no artificial hormones on the label. [26]

Price-fixing In January 2004, Monsanto was accused of illegal price fixing in the genetically engineered seed market. According to Julian Borger of the Guardian (UK), Monsanto spoke with competitors at Pioneer Hi-Bred, Novartis and Mycogen in an attempt to coordinate pricing policies. [27]

Dioxin According to EPA official Cate Jenkins, Monsanto knowingly submitted fraudulent data and studies about dioxin to EPA. Specifically, the company attempted to conceal contamination of its products, strategically rigged samples and fixed dioxin health studies. These efforts played a role in weakening dioxin regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). [28] After she exposed Monsanto's lies and cover-ups, Dr. Jenkins was later demoted to a clerk level position by the EPA with no explanation. [29]

Plan Colombia As part of its effort to fight rebels and drug trafficking, the U.S. government approved the aerial spraying of coca crops in Colombia . The chemicals sprayed included a Roundup formulation (containing a glyphosate concentration 26 times higher than that recommended for agricultural use) in combination with a surfactant, called Cosmo-flux, which has not been approved by EPA. [30] According to many reports, family residences, food crops, rivers and forests have been sprayed, resulting in livestock deaths and human ailments.[31]

Industrial coolants (Polychlorinated Biphenyls, or PCBs) For four-decades, Monsanto benefited from a lucrative monopoly in the U.S. PCB market. [32] During this time, Monsanto regularly dumped PCBs in open pits and creeks in the city of Anniston , Alabama . In 1966, the company discovered and concealed its knowledge that in one creek, fish submerged for ten seconds would die, bleeding and shedding skin, as if dunked into boiling water. [32] Similarly, Monsanto suppressed a company study indicating that PCBs cause tumors in rats. [32] Though Monsanto stopped producing PCBs in 1977, two years before the substance was banned, PCB contamination continues to be a problem in Anniston and around the world today. [32]

False Advertisements In 1996, Monsanto settled a case brought against it by the New York state attorney general for false advertisement of its glyphosate-based products, including Roundup. [33] Monsanto paid a settlement of US$50,000 and agreed to stop referring to its glyphosate-containing products as “biodegradable” and “environmentally friendly.” [33]


In Focus: Patents on Life

Monsanto has made a concerted effort to acquire numerous patents related to genetic engineering techniques and genetically engineered seed varieties. Typically, farmers purchasing these seeds must pay licensing fees and sign a licensing agreement prohibiting seed saving and reuse and including other restrictions. Farmers violating the agreement face severe fines. [34]

In one case, although he claims that he never planted Monsanto's seed, Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was sued by Monsanto after the company found genetically engineered Roundup Ready canola plants's growing in his fields. In fact, the plants may have contaminated Schmeiser's plots through pollen carried by wind from modified plants on nearby farms. Schmeiser says that the genetically engineered canola destroyed his own carefully developed local variety. He has faced severe consequences as a result of the suit. [34]

Schmeiser's situation is not isolated. Tom Wiley, a farmer in North Dakota , put it this way: “Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.” [34]

A coalition of organic famers in Canada has filed a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto for planting test crops of genetically engineered wheat in undisclosed locations. Farmers are concerned that their natural and organic crops could easily become contaminated, which would put them at risk of losing more that $170 million.[35]


Undue Influence

To advance their interests, giants like Monsanto invest heavily in political and social influence. Some of Monsanto's efforts to influence policy and public opinion include:

Trade organizations and think tanks Some of the trade and policy organizations in which Monsanto participates include: [48]

Campaign Contributions The Monsanto Citizenship Fund, a political action committee, donated US$297,971 to federal candidates (42% to Democrats, 58% to Republicans) in the 2008 election cycle, and US$226,401 in the 2006 cycle. Most of the Fund’s money come from donations by Monsanto employees.  [37]

Lobbying From 1998 to 2004, Monsanto spent US$22,504,610 lobbying the federal government. In 2004 alone, the company spent US$3,257,000. [38] The trade organizations to which Monsanto belongs also employ lobbyists.

Monsanto spent $4,174,000 on lobbying so far in 2009. In 2008, they spent $831,120.  [39]

Monsanto was also the driving force behind the proposed H.R. 875 Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, introduced to Congress by Rosa DeLauro whose husband is Monsanto employee Stanley Greenburg. “The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.”  [40]


In Focus: The Revolving Door

High-level employees commonly rotate between industry and the public agencies that regulate them, providing insider know-how and friendly connections through which rules can be bent and loopholes exploited. Monsanto employees have passed through this so-called revolving door many times.

For example, Linda Fisher worked from 1995 to 2000 as Monsanto's Vice President and Corporate Officer, responsible for government relations and public affairs. She then became Deputy Administrator at EPA until 2003. [41]

Michael Taylor worked at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), then worked as an attorney representing Monsanto, went back to work for FDA, [42] and then joined Monsanto as Vice President for Public Policy. Taylor helped draft FDA's policy on genetically modified foods [43]

Others who have passed from Monsanto to government or vice versa include:

  • Gwendolyn S. King, who served on the Monsanto Board of Directors, also served as the 11 th Commissioner of Social Security from 1989-1992 and has served on President Bush's Commission to Strengthen Social Security [44]
  • George H. Poste, another member of Monsanto's Board of Directors is also a member of the Defense Science Board of the U.S. Department of Defense [45]
  • Michael (Mickey) Kantor served as a United States Trade Representative from 1993-1996 [46] and has been a member of Monsanto's board of directors since 1997 
  • Donald Bandler was US Ambassador to Cypress from 1999-2002, then Senior VP of Govt Affairs at Monsanto from 2002-present [47]
  • Marcia Hale (who is also a registered lobbyist for McKenna, Long & Aldridge) worked in the White House under Legislative and Congressional affairs from 1993-2000, and for Monsanto from 1999-2000[48]
  • Toby Moffet was a staff assistant for Walter Mondale from 1970-1971, and a member for the US House of Representatives from 1975-1983. He then worked for Monsanto as an international lobbyist from 1998-2000.[49]
  • Linda Avery Strachan was the Director of Federal and Government Affairs for Monsanto, and also worked as the Assistant Secretary of Congressional Relations for the Department of Agriculture, and as an assistant for the EPA[50]
  • Jim Travis was a Policy Advisor for California Representative Cal Dooley, and now works for Monsanto.[51]


Resources for Action

Groups and individuals are taking action to hold Monsanto accountable for its impacts. The following resources are good starting points for more information about Monsanto and how you can help in these efforts.

Monsanto ( )
Monsanto's Web site.

Scorecard ( )
Environmental Defense's toxic release information Web site. You can look up Monsanto's toxic release information and locations of its U.S. facilities.

Hoovers online ( )
Provides financial information about Monsanto and links to detailed reports and filings.

Genewatch ( )
Monsanto Profile.

Ban Terminator ( )
Campaign to outlaw Terminator technology. ( )
Archived articles about Monsanto.

PAN Pesticides Database ( )
Pesticide Action Network North America's pesticide database allows you to search for toxicity, regulatory and other information by chemical or product.

[1] <> on 3 August 2010.

[2] 2008 data < > on 9 August 2010.

[3] 2009 data from Yahoo Finance < > on 9 August 2010.

[4] “Consumer Factsheet on: Alachlor,” Environmental Protection Agency , < > on 9 August 2010.

[5] Dan Fagan et al, “Toxic Deception: How the Chemical Industry Manipulates Science, Bends the Law and Endangers Your Health,” Center for Public Integrity , 1996, < on 5 August 2010.

[6] Goldie Bulumensytk, “The Story of Syngenta & Tyrone Hayes at UC Berkeley: The Price of Research,” The Chronicle of Higher Education , 31 October 2003, < > on 5 August 2010.

[7] Cohen, Brian et al., “Weed Killers by the Glass: A Citizens' Tap Water Monitoring Project in 29 Cities,” Environmental Working Group , 17 August 1995, < > on 5 August 2010.

[8] Sandra Marquardt, “Never-Registered Pesticides: Rejected Toxics Join the ‘Circle of Poison,'” Greenpeace , February 1992, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[9] "Carbaryl (technical fact sheet)," National Pesticide Information Center, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[10] Sourcewatch <,_Agent_Orange,_Dioxins_and_Plan_Columbia > on 5 Aug. 2010. 

[11] David Dechant, “Monsanto Sees Opportunity in Glyposate Resistant Volunteers Part 2,” Cropchoice , 15 January 2003, <> on 5 Aug 2010.

[12] Chris Boerboom et al., “Facts About Glyphosate Resistant Weeds,” Purdue Education Extention , Dec. 2006, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[13] “ToxFAQs for Methyl Parathion,” Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry , September 2001, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[14] Richard Wiles et al, “Comments on Preliminary Risk Assessment Document for Methyl Parathion,” Environmental Working Group . 12 February 1999, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[15] John Madely, “Paraquat-Syngenta's Controversial Herbicide,” April 2002, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[16] “Chemicals: Toxaphene,” Natural Resources Defense Council , < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[17] “Monsanto Company,” Hoovers Online , <> on 5 Aug. 2010.

[18] F. William Engdahl, “Monsanto Buys 'Terminator' Seeds Company,” Center for Research on Globalization, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[19] “Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers,” Center for Food and Safety, < > on 5 Aug. 2010.

[20] “The rBGH Scandals,” Organic Consumers Association , < > on 10 Aug. 2010.

[21] Michael Pollan, “Playing God in the Garden,” New York Times, <>on 10 Aug 2010.

[22] "Monsanto Fined $1.5 million," BBC News <> on 10 Aug. 2010.

[23] Ronnie Cummins, "Monsanto Under Attack," <> on 5 Aug. 2010.

[24] See < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[25] Margot Roosevelt/Leeds, “Got Hormones? The Simmering Issue of Milk Labels Boils Over When an Agrochemical Giant Sues Small Farmers in Maine ,” Time Magazine , 22 December 2003, < > on 8 Aug. 2010.


[27] Julian Borger, “Monsanto Accused of Price-Fixing,” The Guardian , 7 January 2004, < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[28] Memo from Dr. Cate Jenkins to John West officer in charge of investigation of the falsification of dioxin health studies, < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[29] United States Dept. of Labor document:

[30] “Congressman Decries Spraying of Roundup in Colombia : Says Practice Is a Health Hazard and Waste of Tax-Payers' Money,” 60 Minutes , 14 Jnauary 2002, < > on 8 Aug 2010.

[31] Scott Wilson, “Us Helicopters Spray Monsanto's Toxic Roundup Herbicide on Columbian Campesinos,” Washington Post , 8 January 2001, < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[32] Michael Grunwald, “Monsanto Hid Decades of Pollution: PCBs Drenched Alabama Town , But No One Was Ever Told,” Washington Post , 1 January 2001, < > on 8 Aug 2010.

[33] “Monsanto Agrees to Change Roundup ads,” < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[34] “Monsanto vs. U.S. Farmers,” Center for Food and Safety , < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[35] Organic Consumers Association < > on 8 Aug. 2010.

[36] “Monsanto,” ASEED , 1999, < > on 26 March 2004.

[37] Information acquired from online searchable database Open Secrets < > on 9 Aug. 2010.

[38] Open Secrets, <> on 9 Aug. 2010.

[39] Bloomberg Business Week, < > on 9 Aug. 2010.

[40] Linn Cohen-Cole, "Monsanto's Dream Bill, R875", March 2009 < > on 9 Aug. 2010.

[41] Sarah Wright, “Selling Food.Health.Hope™: the real story behind Monsanto Corporation,” MASIPAG, June 2003 <> on 9 Aug. 2010.

[42] US Food and Drug Administration, "Meet Michael R. Taylor," <> on 9 August 2010.

[43] Institute for Responsible Technology, "Your Milk on Drugs: The Dangers of rBGH in Dairy Products," <> on 9 August 2010.

[44] “Board of Directors,” < > on 9 August 2010.

[45] “Board of Directors,” < > on 9 August 2010.

[46] Forbes profile on Michael Kantor, < > on 9 August 2010.

[47] Information acquired from online searchable database Open Secrets < > on 9 August 2010.

[48] Al Kamen, Excerpt from, "Clinton Assistant Going Private," < > on 9 August 2010.

[49] Information acquired from online searchable database Open Secrets < > on 9 August 2010.

[50] Profile on Linda Avery Strachan <> on 9 August 2010.

[51] Profile on James Travis <> on 9 August 2010.