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The History of Monsanto
Transcript of The History of Monsanto
The "New" Monsanto
Monsanto Chemical Works was founded by John F. Queeny to manufacture the synthetic sweetener saccharin.
The firm was up to full-scale saccharin production in 1902, added caffeine and vanillin to its product line over the next few years, and in 1905 began turning a profit.
With the Coca-Cola Company as one of Monsanto’s chief customers, sales reached $1 million by 1915.
Monsanto begins producing aspirin,
selling 2,368 pounds in the first year.
Out of 11 other American companies producing aspirin
at that time, Monsanto quickly takes the lead.
Conveniently, a US Supreme Court case finds that the German company Bayer has over-advertised their product to an extent that "aspirin" had become
a common name, which broke the monopoly Bayer had in the US.
Monsanto expands to Europe by entering a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works in Wales, to produce vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid.
This partnership was the foot in the door for later Monsanto production facilities in Europe.
In the later 1920s Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals like sulfuric acid and PCBs.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were widely used as dielectric and coolant fluids, for example in transformers, capacitors, and electric motors.
Due to PCBs' environmental toxicity and classification as a persistent organic pollutant, PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.
The Monsanto Chemical Works founds and incorporates
a town called "Monsanto" in Illinois (now known as Sauget) in order to provide a liberal regulatory environment
and low taxes for their chemical plant.
The Monsanto plant was at one time the nation's largest producer
of PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) from the 1930s until 1976 when they were banned by the EPA. An estimated 99% of the PCBs used
in the US were produced at a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, IL.
Monsanto Chemical Works is renamed and incorporated as
the Monsanto Chemical Company.
World War II
1939 - 1945
Monsanto's production of styrene, a component of synthetic rubber, was vital to the US war effort. It was during this time that
Monsanto Chemical Company become a leading manufacturer
of plastics, polystyrene, and synthetic fibers.
Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg, Ohio, for the Manhattan Project, and played a key role in the development of America's first nuclear weapons.
After the war, DDT was made available for use as an agricultural insecticide, and its production and use increased globally.
Public outcry eventually led to the EPA banning DDT
for agricultural use in 1972.
Monsanto Chemical Works became one of the first manufacturers
of the insecticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)
to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.
The Stockholm Convention in 2001 further limits the use of DDT
for disease vector control under the guidance of
the World Health Organization (WHO).
Monsanto Chemical Works develops and markets "All" laundry detergent.
They later sell the product line to Lever Brothers in 1957.
Monsanto Chemical Company expands into the areas of oil drilling,
petroleum refining, plastic, silicon, synthetic rubber, lacquers,
resins, adhesives, explosives, pharmaceuticals, food preservatives,
crop protection, and atomic energy research.
Monsanto forms an Agricultural Division within the company.
To reflect the company’s progression into areas other
than chemical production, Monsanto Chemical Company changes its name to simply Monsanto Company.
Monsanto Company chemist William Knowles perfects
a process that makes possible the production of L-dopa,
later found to be a breakthrough drug in the treatment
of Parkinson's Disease .
Knowles received the 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
along with two other scientists who participated
in perfecting the process.
This marks the start of using Western-themed brand names such as Ramrod, Lasso, and later Roundup for herbicides.
Monsanto voluntarily discontinued its manufacture in 1998.
The Monsanto Company registers the chemical Propachlor under the trade name of "Ramrod" for use in the US.
The Monsanto Company registers the herbicide Alachlor under the trade name of "Lasso" in the US.
Its later success manages to turn around the financially struggling Agricultural Division within Monsanto Company.
Originally named “ChemGrass”, it was first used professionally by the Houston Astros in the Astrodome,
thus coining the name "AstroTurf."
By 1987, AstroTurf had become so popular that
Monsanto Company made it an independent subsidiary, named: AstroTurf Industries, Inc.
AstroTurf® is invented by the Monsanto Company,
and a patent is filed in 1965.
Currently, over 160 million square feet of AstroTurf is
in use on sporting fields and for home use worldwide.
Monsanto Company introduces a wide variety of products including polyesters and nylon-derivative textiles, electronic components to monitor and control factory emissions, safety fluids for heat fatigue and fire-suppression, fuel additives, light-weight and inexpensive plastics, structural safety glass for automotive and architectural applications, soybean-based protein alternatives, and artificial sweeteners.
The Monsanto Company manufactures Agent Orange for the U.S. military as one of nine companies
operating as government contractors.
The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto was found
to have dioxin levels many times higher than that produced other suppliers of Agent Orange.
Internal Monsanto memos show that the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange were known when it was sold to the US gov't for use in Vietnam.
Initially a manufacturer of Gallium Arsenide Phosphide semiconductor materials for General Electric, Monsanto Company establishes its own high volume production of light emitting diodes and are the first company to start mass production of (visible) light emitting diodes.
Monsanto LEDs are found in products ranging
from electronic calculators, digital watches,
and digital clocks.
The commercialization of Lasso herbicide in the US begins the trend toward reduced-tillage farming.
Monsanto Company scientist John Franz discovers
that the chemical glyphosate has herbicidal properties and is effective in killing a wide variety of plants, including grasses, broadleaf, and woody plants.
Two years later, Roundup is commercialized
in the US and by the late-1970s Roundup
is being marketed in 115 countries.
Monsanto sells its sweeteners businesses, including NutraSweet, in 2000.
It is soon to be the single most important product
in Monsanto's agriculture division, contributing nearly 20% of sales and almost 45% of operating income during the 1980s and into early 1990s.
Roundup brand herbicide is commercialized in Malaysia and the UK and registered
for industrial use in the US.
Monsanto Company begins the move to biotechnology by establishing a cell biology research program
in their Agricultural Division.
Monsanto Company, along with other manufacturers of
Agent Orange, are the defendants in a class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans who were medically affected by the spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
Nearly ten years later, Monsanto Company
settles out of court for $180 million.
The suit claims that Monsanto knew their production of Agent Orange contained higher than specified dioxin levels, causing thousands of veterans permanent damage.
Monsanto Company creates a molecular biology group, signaling that biotechnology is firmly Monsanto's strategic research focus.
Monsanto Company scientists became the first
to genetically modify a plant cell.
Five years later, Monsanto conducts the first field tests of genetically engineered crops.
Monsanto Company acquires G. D. Searle & Company, a life sciences company focusing on pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and animal health.
In 1993, Monsanto's Searle division files a patent application for Celebrex, which becomes an immensely profitable drug due to being the first selective COX‑2 inhibitor approved by
the US Food and Drug Administration.
Searle holds the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient
in NutraSweet, which it invented in 1965.
Monsanto Company introduces the bovine growth hormone brand-named Posilac, a genetically engineered hormone designed to increase the production of milk in cows
by nearly 20% .
Independent studies later showed that use of bovine growth hormone leads to mastitis, an inflammation of the udder,
which forces farmers to treat their cows with antibiotics.
Traces of these antibiotics had been shown to be found
in commercial milk, even after pasteurization.
Amidst criticism from animal rights groups and health advocates, Monsanto sells the Posilac division to drugaker Eli Lily in 2008.
Monsanto Company purchases Agracetus, the biotechnology company that had generated the first transgenic varieties
of cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and other crops.
The company is best known for producing the first
successful genetically engineered crop,
Monsanto's "Roundup Ready soybean."
Monsanto also purchases biotechnology research and development firm Calgene LLC, which was known for their genetic work with tomatoes, canola oil and cotton.
Calgene was the inventor of the Flavr Savr Tomato, which was genetically engineered to stay fresh on store shelves longer than regular tomatoes.
In order to enter the maize seed business, Monsanto Company purchases 40% of the DeKalb Genetics Corporation.
DeKalb is best known for its leading role in
the development of hybrid corn.
In 1998, Monsanto purchases the remaining 60% of DeKalb.
Monsanto Company introduces Bollgard, an insect-protected cotton with insect protection against the cotton bollworm, tobacco budworm and pink bollworm built into the seed.
Monsanto Company commercializes Roundup Ready Soybeans, genetically engineered soybeans that have had their DNA altered to allow them to withstand the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup) in the US.
One argument given in favor of Roundup Ready crops
is that they will increase crop yields.
However, studies have found that the original Roundup Ready soybeans have not increased operational yields compared to conventional methods that rely on other available herbicides.
Due to the widespread adoption of glyphosate-resistant crops, weeds have evolved the ability to withstand glyphosate,
the active ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup.
The first glyphosate-resistant weed discovered
in the US is horseweed (also known as marestail),
discovered in Delaware in 2000.
Since then, it has spread to 20 other states (AR, CA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MD, MI, MO, MS, NC, NE, NJ, OH, OK, PA, SD, TN, and VA)
as well as soybeans in Brazil and Canada.
Monsanto Company introduces YieldGard Corn Borer
insect-protected corn, Roundup Ready Canola,
and Roundup Ready Cotton.
Monsanto becomes the first company to introduce
a stacked trait combination when it introduces
Bollgard insect-protected cotton stacked
with Roundup Ready Cotton.
The product offers two traits in one seed - including
Monsanto's Bollgard insect-protection and
its Roundup Ready technology.
To further strengthen it's position in agricultural biotechnology, Monsanto Company makes the following purchases:
Asgrow Agronomics (a major US soybean seed company with int'l operations),
Holden Foundation Seeds (an American company specializing in the research,
development, and production of patented foundation seed corn)
Corn States Hybrid Service Inc.
Corn States International
(independent distributors of Holden seeds)
Monsanto Company divests itself of its industrial
chemicals and fibers divisions in order
to begin focusing the corporation's efforts
on agricultural biotechnology.
Solutia, Inc. is formed from the operations, assets
and liabilities that were previously the chemicals and fibers division of Monsanto.
Roundup Ready Corn is introduced, providing farmers
with in-seed herbicide tolerance to Roundup
and other glyphosate-based herbicides.
Monsanto Company becomes the first company to
introduce a stacked trait combination in corn when
it introduces YieldGard Corn Borer insect-protected
corn stacked with Roundup Ready Corn.
The product offers two traits in one seed by including
Monsanto's YieldGard Corn Borer insect-protection
and its Roundup Ready technology.
Searle's aspartame division becomes a separate Monsanto subsidiary, the NutraSweet Company.
Monsanto Company merges with Swedish
bioindustry and medical company
Pharmacia & Upjohn.
The resulting conglomerate is known as "Pharmacia Corp."
The agricultural division of the former Monsanto Company becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Pharmacia Corp.
The medical research divisions of the former Monsanto Company are rolled into Pharmacia Corp.
Monsanto Chemical Works was founded by John F. Queeny to manufacture the synthetic sweetener saccharin.
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