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'The World According to Monsanto': Fighting a Global Agribusiness Through the Power of Film

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

I have been working as a journalist for the past 25 years or so, focusing mainly on human rights and the environment.

What struck me was the number of people I encountered who kept uttering a single name: Monsanto, the giant U.S.-based multinational biotechnology company.

I grew up on a farm in France, hence my keen interest in agricultural issues.

I decided to find out more about Monsanto's global reach.

Monsanto, founded in 1901, started out as a chemical company. It is perhaps best known for producing Agent Orange, the defoliant used by U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

It now has a commanding share of the global genetically modified seed market. One of its representative products is the herbicide Roundup. The documentary shows how Monsanto makes money by selling Roundup together with transgenic seeds that are resistant to the herbicide.

Monsanto originally marketed Roundup as "environmentally friendly" and "biodegradable," but it had to change its labeling after the company was found guilty of "false advertising," first by a U.S. court in 1996 and then by a French court in 2007.

The company has patented these genetically modified seeds, so when a farmer buys them, he or she must keep paying patent fees for new seeds, even if these seeds are harvested from the farmer's own crops.

When Monsanto first started selling transgenic soy beans in Argentina, it didn't seek patent fees. Several years later, though, after the multinational had captured a large share of the market, it came back and began pursuing farmers for royalties.