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[whitespace] Monsanto's Greatest Hits

As industrial and chemical innovations of the 20th century came and went, Monsanto was there

MONSANTO has spent the entire 20th century in pursuit of profit through science, from Saccharin to aspirin, from Agent Orange to Round Up. Here's a chronology of company pursuits over the past 100 years.

1901--Founder John Francis Queeny names Monsanto Chemical Works after his wife, Olga Mendez Monsanto.

1902--The company manufactures its first product, Saccharin. The U.S. government later files suit over the safety of Saccharin, but loses.

1917--Monsanto starts producing aspirin.

1929--Monsanto acquires Rubber Services Laboratories

1935--Monsanto goes into the soap and detergents industry, starts producing phosphorus.

1938--The company goes into the plastic business.

1939-1945--Monsanto conducts research on uranium for the Manhattan Project in Dayton, Ohio. Dr. Charles Thomas, who later served as the company's chairman of the board, was present at the first test explosion of the atomic bomb.

1943--Massive Texas City plant starts producing synthetic rubber for the Allies in World War II.

1955--Monsanto buys Lion Oil refinery, starts producing petroleum-based fertilizer.

1959--Monsanto sets up Monsanto Electronics Co. in Palo Alto, begins producing ultra-pure silicon for the high-tech industry, in an area which would later become a Superfund site.

1969--Produces Lasso herbicide, better known as Agent Orange, which was used as defoliant by the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War. "[Lasso's] success turns around the struggling Agriculture Division," Monsanto's web page reads.

1976--RoundUp is commercialized, becoming the world's top-selling herbicide.

1976--Monsanto produces Cycle-Safe, the world's first plastic soft-drink bottle. The bottle, suspected of posing a cancer risk, is banned the following year by the Food and Drug Administration.

1981--G.D. Searle gets FDA approval for NutraSweet (Monsanto completes its acquisition of Searle in 1985).

1982--Monsanto scientists genetically modify a plant for the first time.

1986--Monsanto found guilty of negligently exposing a worker to benzene at its Chocolate Bayou Plant in Texas. It is forced to pay $100 million to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen, a worker who died of leukemia after repeated exposures.

1986--At a 1986 congressional hearing, medical specialists denounce a National Cancer Institute study disputing that formaldehyde causes cancer. Monsanto and DuPont scientists helped with the study, whose author provided results to the Formaldehyde Institute industry representatives nearly six months before releasing the study to the EPA, labor unions and the public.

1986--Monsanto spends $50,000 against California's anti-toxics initiative, Proposition 65. The initiative prohibits the discharge of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects into drinking water supplies.

1987--Monsanto is one of the companies named in an $180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange.

1988--A federal jury finds Monsanto Co.'s subsidiary, G.D. Searle & Co., negligent in testing and marketing of its Copper 7 intrauterine birth control device (IUD). The verdict followed the unsealing of internal documents regarding safety concerns about the IUD, which was used by nearly 10 million women between 1974 and 1986.

1990--EPA chemists allege fraud in Monsanto's 1979 dioxin study, which found exposure to the chemical doesn't increase cancer risks.

1990--Monsanto spends more than $405,000 to defeat California's pesticide regulation Proposition 128, known as the "Big Green" initiative. The initiative is aimed at phasing out the use of pesticides, including Monsanto's product alachlor, linked to cancer and global warming.

1991--Monsanto is fined $1.2 million for trying to conceal discharge of contaminated waste water into the Mystic River in Connecticut.

1993--The Food and Drug Administration approves Posilac bovine somatropin (BST).

1995--Monsanto is sued after allegedly supplying radioactive material for a controversial study which involved feeding radioactive iron to 829 pregnant women.

1995--Monsanto ordered to pay $41.1 million to a waste management company in Texas due to concerns over hazardous waste dumping.

1995--The Safe Shoppers Bible says that Monsanto's Ortho Weed-B-Gon Lawn Weed Killer contains a known carcinogen, 2,4 D. Company officials argue that numerous studies have found no link to cancer.

1997--The Seattle Times reports that Monsanto sold 6,000 tons of contaminated waste to Idaho fertilizer companies, which contained the carcinogenic heavy metal cadmium, believed to cause cancer, kidney disease, neurological dysfunction and birth defects.

1999--Monsanto opens its Beautiful Sciences exhibit at Disneyland.

1999--After international criticism, Monsanto agrees not to commercialize "Terminator" seeds.

2000--Merges with Pharmacia & Upjohn, changes its name to Pharmacia Corporation.

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From the May 11-17, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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