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Mitt Romney, Monsanto Man

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our California News page.

This article was reported in collaboration with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, where Barrett is a reporting fellow.

Though Mitt Romney has been campaigning for president since 2006, it's alarming how little is known about critical chapters of his business biography. Nothing spells that out more clearly than his ties to Monsanto-the current target of a mid-September Occupy nationwide action-whose dark history features scandals involving PCBs, Agent Orange, bovine growth hormone, NutraSweet, IUD, genetically modified (GM) seed and herbicides, reaching back to the 1970s and '80s. That's when Monsanto was the largest consulting client of Romney's employer, Bain & Company, and when Romney helped move Monsanto from chemical colossus to genetic giant, trading one set of environmental controversies for another.

This history matters not just because of the light it sheds on Romney's self-ballyhooed business experience but because of the litany of Monsanto corporate objectives that clash with planetary concerns. If Romney is elected, this bete noire of environmentalists will have a very old friend in a very high place.

The romance between Romney and Monsanto began back in 1977, when the recently minted Harvard Law and Business School graduate joined Bain, the Boston-based consulting firm launched in 1973, the same year Monsanto became one of its first clients. One of Bain's founding partners, Ralph Willard, described to the Boston Globe in 2007 how "Romney learned the technical aspects of the chemical business so thoroughly that he sounded as if he had gone to engineering school instead of business school," and that Monsanto executives soon began "bypassing" him to go directly to Romney. 

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