What is evil? Eating KitKat bars and oreos the wrong way? Leaving bubble wrap un-popped? Working in a super obvious evil lair in the middle of town? Being Hitler? There are infinite shades of evil, but how dark is dark?
Take the example of seeds and PCBs. Cute and harmless right? What if I told you that they could be turned into weapons powerful enough to give North Korea a run for its money? Yes, you heard me right.
The firm I’m not-so-subtly referring to is Monsanto. In a 2013 poll, it was named the “most evil corporation of the world” ! Is it fair to demean a corporation like this? I mean, how bad could it be?
Monsanto: The baddest in the business?
Monsanto Company is a publicly traded American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is a leading producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed and Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide. Monsanto’s role in agricultural changes, biotechnology products, and lobbying of government agencies, along with its history as a chemical company have made the company controversial. Notable achievements by Monsanto and its scientists as a chemical company included breakthrough research on catalytic asymmetric hydrogenation and being the first company to mass-produce light emitting diodes (LEDs).
Monsanto was among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, as one of four groups announcing the introduction of genes into plants in 1983,and was among the first to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops, which it did in 1987. It remained one of the top 10 U.S. chemical companies until it divested most of its chemical businesses between 1997 and 2002, through a process of mergers and spin-offs that focused the company on biotechnology.
How does success translate into evil? Monsanto is credited with pumping a multitude of toxins into the bloodstream of our planet since its inception back in 1901.
Monsanto has been involved in mass producing hybrid seed corn, detergents, soaps, industrial cleaning products, synthetic rubbers and plastics. Monsanto also pioneered the world’s first commercial polychlorinated biphenyls(PCBs). This was welcome with open arms by the world of electrical engineers.
“PCBs were considered an industrial wonder chemical, an oil that wouldn’t burn, impervious to degradation and had almost limitless applications. Today PCBs are considered one of the gravest chemical threats on the planet. Widely used as lubricants, hydraulic fluids, cutting oils, waterproof coatings and liquid sealants, are potent carcinogens and have been implicated in reproductive, developmental and immune system disorders. The world’s center of PCB manufacturing was Monsanto’s plant on the outskirts of East St. Louis, Illinois, which has the highest rate of fetal death and immature births in the state.”
Even though PCBs were eventually banned after fifty years for causing such devastation, it is still present in just about all animal and human blood and tissue cells across the globe. Documents introduced in court later showed Monsanto was fully aware of the deadly effects, but criminally hid them from the public to keep the PCB gravy-train going full speed!
Monsanto, along with chemical partner-in-crime DOW Chemical, produces dioxin-laced Agent Orange for use in the U.S.’s Vietnam invasion. The results? Over 3 million people contaminated, a half-million Vietnamese civilians dead, a half-million Vietnamese babies born with birth defects and thousands of U.S. military veterans suffering or dying from its effects to this day!
The company has been involved in countless cases of perjury, misinterpretation of test results, counterfeiting documents, and lying about illegal activities and the harm done to the environment.
The company was reported to have known about the many side effects of one of its main products, aspartame, and had allegedly concealed them from the general public.
Monsanto spends millions defeating state and federal legislation that disallows the corporation from continuing to dump dioxins, pesticides and other cancer-causing poisons into drinking water systems. Regardless, they are sued countless times for causing disease in their plant workers, the people in surrounding areas and birth defects in babies.
The GM crops mass produced by Monsanto had some appalling effects apart from its effect on human health. GM crops have been engineered to ‘self-pollinate,’ and do not need nature or bees to do that for them. There is a very dark side agenda to this and that is to wipe out the world’s bee population. When bees attempt to pollinate a GM plant or flower, it gets poisoned and dies. In fact, the bee colony collapse was recognized and has been going on since GM crops were first introduced.
The company has been repeatedly sued for $100s of millions for causing illness, infant deformities and death by illegally dumping all manner of PCBs into ground water, and continually lying about products safety.
The monster often perseveres and proves difficult to slay as it begins filing frivolous suits against farmers it claims infringe on their terminator seed patents. In virtually all cases, unwanted seeds are windblown onto farmers’ lands by neighbouring terminator-seeded farms. Not only do these horrendous seeds destroy the organic farmers’ crops, the lawsuits drive them into bankruptcy, while the Supreme Court overturns lower court rulings and sides with Monsanto each time.
These are just a few of the many known cases against Monsanto. The question arises – is any company perfect Is there really a Gandhi or a Martin Luther in the Corporate world? I cannot name a single company which hasn’t used unethical means to climb the ladder of success. Many of the companies we have come to love and adore wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for a few kinks in the past – Apple and Microsoft, for example. That being said, where does one draw the line? Do the ends really justify the means?