Monsanto is a world leader in industrial agriculture, providing the seeds for 90 percent of the world's genetically modified crops. In an interview with The Real News Network, filmmaker Marie-Monique Robin discussed her recent film 'The World According to Monsanto' in which she exposes many of Monsanto's controversial practices, from concealing knowledge of toxicity of PCBs to producing genetically modified seeds and related herbicides.
Monsanto has a long history of manufacturing dangerous products. In 1949, an explosion in Nitro, a Monsanto factory in the US, caused 228 workers to develop an extremely disfiguring illness caused by dioxin, a highly toxic by-product of 2,4,5-T, a powerful herbicide manufactured in the factory.
Monsanto's product Roundup, an herbicide which Monsanto advertised as biodegradable, is still sprayed on crops by unprotected farmers in Paraguay even though Monsanto has already been convicted twice of false advertising for the product.
Robin also denounces Monsanto for not only denying that it ever heard of Agent Orange, a herbicide sprayed by the US Army on crops during the Vietnam war and which Monsanto had in fact manufactured, but also for manipulating scientific studies to hide links between Agent Orange and cancer.
According to Robin, Monsanto has bought fifty seed companies in the last ten years. In a clip from Robin's film, physicist and ecologist Dr. Vandana Shiva warns: "Once [Monsanto has] established the norm that seed can be owned as their property, we will depend on them. If they control seed they control food. It's more powerful than bombs. This is the best way to control the populations of the world."
In a Monsanto declassified file is found the sentence, "we can't afford to lose one dollar of business" even as toxicity of PCBs was discussed. This, Robin says, sums Monsanto's philosophy rather well.