Since this blog tackles issues that concerning genetically modified crops and biotechnology, it is also just as important to feature some of the leading biotech companies today that are pushing for the development of genetic modification with the aim of improving the lives of people in general. One of the largest of these biotech companies is Monsanto.
Monsanto is a leading provider of agricultural products all over the world. Monsanto is the leading producer of the herbicide known as glyphosate, more popularly known in the market as Roundup. The company is also considered as the leading producer and provider of genetically engineered seeds to farmers all over the world. It accounts for more than 70 percent of the market share for various crops.
Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri by John Francis Queeny in 1901. The first product it marketed was the artificial sweetener saccharin which the company sold to the Coca Cola Company. After coming up with other products such as caffeine and vanillin which it also supplies to Coca Cola, Monsanto ventured into producing other chemical products in 1919. Other ventures that followed include producing industrial chemicals, plastics, and herbicides.
Although Monsanto has been in existence since 1901, it is a relatively new company when it comes to serving the agricultural sector with its line of genetically engineered seeds. Monsanto has made quite a drastic shift from its past since it now focuses on being mainly an agricultural company rather than in the production of industrial and pharmaceutical products.
Since its entry in the agricultural sector through providing genetically engineered seeds, the bovine growth hormone somatotropin, and Roundup herbicide, the company has been the focus of quite a number of controversies. Monsanto has received quite a number of complaints regarding some of their products from farmers and environmental activists. One of those controversies concerns their popular herbicide Roundup which some studies have shown to be having a higher level of toxicity than previously known.
Another source of controversy that Monsanto finds itself into is in the development of so-called Terminator seeds. Monsanto has recently acquired Delta and Pine Land Company, a company known to be involved with developing the Terminator seed technology. This technology aims to produce what has been commonly known as "suicide seeds", seeds that grow into plants that in turn produce sterile seeds that cannot be planted for the next harvest.
And because of the many controversies that the company has recently found itself in, Monsanto has garnered a lot of criticism from a number of fronts. Environmental activists have complained that the company may have followed poor environmental protection practices that have led to contamination of surrounding areas where some of its industrial units operate.