While we're in the 1940s, it's probably worth pointing out that Monsanto played a critical role in building the atom bomb. To be specific, they helped make the trigger. And during the Vietnam War, they helped manufacture Agent Orange for the U.S. government. Their website emphatically reminds us that eight other companies also produced Agent Orange, and besides it's probably not that bad anyway, you guys.
Monsanto's buck-passing there is pretty egregious, considering the VA is NOT famous for giving away money and readily admits that a ton of health problems among Vietnam veterans can be traced to Agent Orange. Today, the biggest claim against Monsanto is that 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide due to the company's expensive seeds and pesticides driving them to bankruptcy and making them ill.
Of course, the actual story is much more complicated. Monsanto is one part of a decades-long cycle of industrialization in farming and wildly climbing cotton demand that's screwed over millions of poor Indian farmers, several hundred thousand of whom have killed themselves. Monsanto's played a role in those deaths, but statistically, so have you and your love of blue jeans.
Still, the fact that Monsanto is one half of this aggressive attempt to corner an entire industry is more than a little unnerving. Their strategy has always been to cleverly lock down entire supply-and-demand chains and then beat said supply chain about the head and neck within an inch of the law. After spending the '70s as a chemical company (see Agent Orange, Vietnam), they became the largest seller of seeds in the world by genetically engineering a seed that was resistant to their own chemicals. In other words, they made a chemical that killed all the plants, and then they made a plant that couldn't be killed by their chemical. Thanks to supervillainous moves like trademarking corn seeds and suing people who grew corn from their seeds without permission, Monsanto became a global power. And now they're merging with another global power to conquer untold supply chains.
Who knows what virtuous circles they might form together.
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