Timeline of Monsanto

Last updated

This is a timeline of Monsanto , a publicly traded American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation headquartered in Creve Coeur, Greater St. Louis, Missouri.


Big picture

Time periodKey developments at Monsanto
1901-1945Monsanto is founded as a chemical company.
1945-1960Monsanto begins producing agrochemicals.
1961-1982Monsanto creates an agricultural division. It manufactures Agent Orange, which is later banned.
1982 - 2000Monsanto starts its pivot into biotechnology. It genetically engineers a plant cell in 1982, commercializes the first genetically engineered product, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) - in 1994, and brings its first genetically engineered seeds, Roundup soybeans, onto the market in 1996. It pivots away from producing chemicals in the late 1990s.
2000 - 2016Monsanto enters a merger and changes its name to Pharmacia. Pharmacia then spins off its agricultural division as an independent company named Monsanto Company. Monsanto continues in biotechnology.

Full timeline

YearEvent typeDetails
1901CompanyMonsanto is founded in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901 as a chemical company, [1] by John Francis Queeny, a 30‑year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry. Its first products are commodity food additives, like the artificial sweetener saccharin, caffeine, and vanillin. [2] :6 [3] [4] [5] [6]
1919ExpansionMonsanto expands into Europe in 1919 by entering a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr, near Ruabon Wales, to produce vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid.
1929CompanyMonsanto's shares go on sale at the New York Stock Exchange. [7]
1935AcquisitionsMonsanto acquires the Swann Chemical Company in Anniston, Alabama, entering the business of producing PCBs on an industrial scale. [7] [8] [9] [10]
1936AcquisitionsMonsanto acquires the Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories in Dayton, Ohio, in order to acquire the expertise of Charles Allen Thomas and Dr. Carroll A. ("Ted") Hochwalt. The acquisition was subsequently made Monsanto's Central Research Department. [11] :340–341
1940s (early)ProductsMonsanto becomes one of the world's leading manufacturers in both rubber and plastics (like polystyrene). [7]
1944ProductsMonsanto begins manufacturing DDT.
1945ProductsMonsanto starts producing and markets agricultural chemicals, including 2,4-D. These eventually become what the company is known for. [12]
1946ProductsMonsanto develops and markets the "All" laundry detergent until they sell the product line to Lever Brothers in 1957. [13]
1952ProductsMonsanto (a major manufacturer of 2,4,5-T) informs the U.S. government that its 2,4,5-T is contaminated. [14]
1961ProductsPresident Kennedy authorizes the use of the Rainbow Herbicide defoliants in the Vietnam War – many of which are manufactured by Monsanto. This includes Agent Orange, which is applied starting in 1965. These are used until 1971. [7]
1960s (mid)Products William Standish Knowles and his team (at Monsanto) invent a way to selectively synthesize enantiomers via asymmetric hydrogenation. This was an important advancement because it was the first method for the catalytic production of pure chiral compounds. [15]
1968ProductsMonsanto becomes the first company to start mass production of (visible) light emitting diodes (LEDs), using gallium arsenide phosphide, ushering in the era of solid-state lights. [16] Monsanto was a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s.
1970LegalThe United States Department of Agriculture halts the use of 2,4,5-T (manufactured by Monsanto) on all food crops except rice.
1972Products DDT is banned under most circumstances.
1974Products Harvard University and Monsanto sign a ten-year industrial-funded research grant to support the cancer research of Judah Folkman. [17] [18]
1974ProductsMonsanto puts up Roundup, or glyphosate, on the market. Glyphosate becomes one of the most commonly used herbicides. [7]
1977ProductsMonsanto stops producing Polychlorinated biphenyls. [7]
1979Products Monsanto strikes a deal with Genentech in 1979 to license Genentech's patents and collaborate on development of a recombinant version of Bovine somatotropin.
1980LegalThe first US Agent Orange class-action lawsuit us filed for the injuries military personnel in Vietnam suffered through exposure to dioxins in the defoliant. [19] The suit is settled in 1984, with slightly over 45% of the sum paid by Monsanto alone.
1983ProductsMonsanto is one of four groups announcing the introduction of genes into plants in 1983. [20]
1984LegalThe trial of Kemner vs. Monsanto (one of the Monsanto legal cases) opens in Illinois. [7] The case involved a group of plaintiffs who claimed to have been poisoned by dioxin in 1979 when a train derailed in Sturgeon, Missouri. Tank cars on the train carried a chemical used to make wood preservatives and "small quantities of a dioxin called 2, 3, 7, 8, TCDD... formed as a part of the manufacturing process." [21]
1985AcquisitionsMonsanto purchases G. D. Searle & Company for $2.7 billion in cash. [22] [23]
1986ProductsMonsanto sells its American-based commodity plastics, or polystyrene, business to Polysar Ltd., a Canadian petrochemical company. [24]
1993ProductsMonsanto's Searle division files a patent application for Celebrex. [25] [26]
1994ProductsMonsanto introduces a recombinant version of bovine somatotropin, brand-named Posilac. [27]
1995ProductsMonsanto's potato plants producing Bt toxin (genetically modified to make a crystalline insecticidal protein from Bacillus thuringiensis ) are approved for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency, after having approved by the U.S. FDA, making it the first pesticide-producing genetically modified crop to be approved in the United States. [28]
1996ProductsMonsanto introduces genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans that are resistant to Roundup (greatly improving a farmer's ability to control weeds, since glyphosate could be sprayed in the fields without harming their crops). [29]
1996AcquisitionsMonsanto acquires Agracetus, the biotechnology company that had generated the first transgenic varieties of cotton, soybeans, peanuts, and other crops, and from which Monsanto had been licensing technology since 1991. [30]
1997DivisionsMonsanto spins off its industrial chemical and fiber divisions into Solutia. [1] [31] This marks the beginning of its pivot from chemical businesses into biotechnology.
1998ProductsMonsanto introduces genetically modified Roundup Ready corn that is resistant to Roundup. [29]
1999CorporationMonsanto merges with Pharmacia and Upjohn, [1] so the agricultural division became a wholly owned subsidiary of the "new" Pharmacia.
2000CorporationPharmacia spins off its Monsanto subsidiary into a new company, [1] the "new Monsanto" - which then raises $700 million in a new IPO. [32] The "new Monsanto" is legally distinct from the old pre-2000 Monsanto.
2000CompetitionSyngenta is formed in 2000 by the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals. [33] [34] By 2009, it ranks third in seeds and biotechnology sales. [35]
2007AcquisitionsMonsanto purchases Delta & Pine Land Company, a major cotton seed breeder, for $1.5 billion. [36] As a condition for approval from the Department of Justice, Monsanto was obligated to divest its Stoneville cotton business, which it sold to Bayer, and to divest its NexGen cotton business, which it sold to Americot. [37] Monsanto also exited the pig breeding business by selling Monsanto Choice Genetics to Newsham Genetics LC in November, divesting itself of "any and all swine-related patents, patent applications, and all other intellectual property". [38] :108
2013AcquisitionsMonsanto purchases the San Francisco-based Climate Corp for $930 million. [39] Climate Corp. makes more accurate local weather forecasts for farmers based on data modelling and historical data; if the forecasts were wrong, the farmer was recompensed. [40]
2013PublicThe March Against Monsanto, a worldwide protest against Monsanto and GMOs takes place. [41]
2015ProductsMonsanto rolls out seeds engineered with new herbicide resistance, releasing dicamba-resistant cotton.
2016Acquisitions Bayer acquires Monsanto for $56 billion. [42]
2016ProductsMonsanto buys a license from Broad Institute of Harvard University and MIT to use the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology. [43]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Polychlorinated biphenyl</span> Chemical compound

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are highly carcinogenic chemical compounds, formerly used in industrial and consumer products, whose production was banned in the United States by the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1979 and internationally by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001. They are organic chlorine compounds with the formula C12H10−xClx; they were once widely used in the manufacture of carbonless copy paper, as heat transfer fluids, and as dielectric and coolant fluids for electrical equipment.

The Monsanto Company was an American agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation founded in 1901 and headquartered in Creve Coeur, Missouri. Monsanto's best known product is Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, developed in the 1970s. Later, the company became a major producer of genetically engineered crops. In 2018, the company ranked 199th on the Fortune 500 of the largest United States corporations by revenue.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pharmacia & Upjohn</span>

Pharmacia & Upjohn was a global pharmaceutical company formed by the merger of Sweden-based Pharmacia AB and the American company Upjohn in 1995. Today the remainder of the company is owned by Pfizer. In 1997, Pharmacia & Upjohn sold several brands to Johnson & Johnson, including Motrin and Cortaid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Genetically modified crops</span> Plants used in agriculture

Genetically modified crops are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods. Plant genomes can be engineered by physical methods or by use of Agrobacterium for the delivery of sequences hosted in T-DNA binary vectors. In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, resistance to chemical treatments, or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Syngenta</span> Global provider of agricultural science and technology

Syngenta AG is a provider of agricultural science and technology, in particular seeds and pesticides with its management headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. It is owned by ChemChina, a Chinese state-owned enterprise.

Devgen is a Belgium-based multinational agricultural biotechnology company. It uses biotechnology and molecular breeding technologies to develop varieties of food crops. Its technology is marketed by outlicensing or selling seeds in India and South-East Asia. Devgen also develops nematicides.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Genetically modified food controversies</span> Controversies over GMO food

Genetically modified food controversies are disputes over the use of foods and other goods derived from genetically modified crops instead of conventional crops, and other uses of genetic engineering in food production. The disputes involve consumers, farmers, biotechnology companies, governmental regulators, non-governmental organizations, and scientists. The key areas of controversy related to genetically modified food are whether such food should be labeled, the role of government regulators, the objectivity of scientific research and publication, the effect of genetically modified crops on health and the environment, the effect on pesticide resistance, the impact of such crops for farmers, and the role of the crops in feeding the world population. In addition, products derived from GMO organisms play a role in the production of ethanol fuels and pharmaceuticals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thermo Fisher Scientific</span> Provisioner of scientific consumables, equipment, and services

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. is an American supplier of scientific instrumentation, reagents and consumables, and software services. Based in Waltham, Massachusetts, Thermo Fisher was formed through the merger of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific in 2006. Thermo Fisher Scientific has acquired other reagent, consumable, instrumentation, and service providers, including: Life Technologies Corporation (2013), Alfa Aesar (2015), Affymetrix (2016), FEI Company (2016), BD Advanced Bioprocessing (2018), and PPD (2021).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jon Entine</span> American science writer and consultant (born 1952)

Jon Entine is an American science journalist. After working as a network news writer and producer for NBC News and ABC News, Entine moved into print journalism. Entine has written seven books and is a contributing columnist to newspapers and magazines. He is the founder and executive director of the science advocacy group the Genetic Literacy Project, and a former visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is also the founder of the consulting company ESG Mediametrics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bayer</span> German multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company

Bayer AG is a German multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company and one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Headquartered in Leverkusen, Bayer's areas of business include pharmaceuticals; consumer healthcare products, agricultural chemicals, seeds and biotechnology products. The company is a component of the EURO STOXX 50 stock market index.

Genetically modified wheat is corn that has been genetically engineered by the direct manipulation of its genome using biotechnology. As of 2020, no GM wheat is grown commercially, although many field tests have been conducted, with one wheat variety, Bioceres HB4 Wheat, obtaining regulatory approval from the Argentinean government.

Life Sciences Foundation (LSF) was a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization that was established in 2011 to collect, preserve, interpret, and promote the history of biotechnology. LSF conducted historical research, maintained archives and published historically relevant materials and information.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">March Against Monsanto</span> International protest movement

The March Against Monsanto is an international grassroots movement and protest against Monsanto, a producer of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide. The movement was founded by Tami Canal in response to the failure of California Proposition 37, a ballot initiative which would have required labeling food products made from GMOs. Advocates support mandatory labeling laws for food made from GMOs.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is an American biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics for genetically defined diseases. The company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2016, Forbes included the company on its "100 Most Innovative Growth Companies" list.

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc is a publicly traded pharmaceutical company. It was originally called Microbia, Inc.

Monsanto was involved in several high-profile lawsuits, as both plaintiff and defendant. It had been defendant in a number of lawsuits over health and environmental issues related to its products. Monsanto also made frequent use of the courts to defend its patents, particularly in the area of agricultural biotechnology.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kevin Folta</span>

Kevin M. Folta is a professor of the horticultural sciences department at the University of Florida. From 2007 to 2010 he helped lead the project to sequence the strawberry genome, and continues to research photomorphogenesis in plants and compounds responsible for flavor in strawberries. Folta has been active as a science communicator since 2002, especially relating to biotechnology. He has faced controversy over what his critics say are his industry connections. In 2017 he was elected as a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ionis Pharmaceuticals</span> Biotechnology company

Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biotechnology company based in Carlsbad, California, that specializes in discovering and developing RNA-targeted therapeutics. The company has 3 commercially approved medicines: Spinraza (Nusinersen), Tegsedi (Inotersen), and Waylivra (Volanesorsen) and has 4 drugs in pivotal studies: tominersen for Huntington’s disease, tofersen for SOD1-ALS, AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx for cardiovascular disease, and AKCEA-TTR-LRx for all forms of TTR amyloidosis.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) is the largest advocacy association in the world representing the biotechnology industry.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Glick, J. Leslie (September 1, 2015). "Biotech Firms Need Innovation Strategies". Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News . p. 11. Retrieved September 29, 2015. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  2. Erik Simani, World Resources Institute. 2001. The Monsanto Company: Quest for Sustainability
  3. "Our history - Early years". Monsanto official website. Retrieved September 27, 2013.
  4. Marc S. Reisch for Chemical & Engineering News. January 12, 1998 From Coal Tar to Crafting a Wealth of Diversity
  5. Robert Ancuceanu. Saccharin – urban myths and scientific data Practica Farmaceutică 2011 4(2):69-72
  6. Warner, Deborah Jean (2011). Sweet Stuff: An American History of Sweeteners from Sugar to Sucralose . Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press. pp.  182–190. ISBN   978-1935623052.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Robin, Marie-Monique, The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of the World’s Food Supply New Press, 2009, ISBN   1595584269
  8. "Poisoned By PCBs: "A Lack of Control"". Chemical Industry Archives. Archived from the original on 10 December 2015. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  9. Head, Thomas R., III (Spring 2005). "PCBs—The Rise and Fall of an Industrial Miracle" (PDF). Natural Resources & Environment: 18. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  10. Montague, Peter. "How We Got Here -- Part 1: The History of Chlorinated Diphenyl (PCB's)". HudsonWatch.net.
  11. Ralph Landau, "Charles Allen Thomas," Memorial Tributes, vol. 2, National Academy of Engineering
  12. "Company History". Monsanto.com. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  13. Published: September 15, 2003 (September 15, 2003). "Unilever (Lever Brothers Co.) | AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising – Advertising Age". Adage.com.
  14. Schuck, 1987: p. 17
  15. William S. Knowles. ASYMMETRIC HYDROGENATIONS. Nobel Lecture, December 8, 2001
  16. E. Fred Schubert (2003). "1". Light-Emitting Diodes. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   978-0-8194-3956-7.
  17. Patricia K Donahoe. Judah Folkman: 1933–2008. A Biographical Memoir National Academy of Sciences, 2014
  18. Harvard Medical School Bio at Harvard Medical School
  19. "Dying Veteran May Speak From Beyond The Grave In Court: Lakeland Ledger". 1980-01-25. Retrieved 2012-07-07.
  20. "The race towards the first genetically modified plant". Plant Biotech News. 19 June 2013.
  21. "KEMNER v. MONSANTO CO. – July 22, 1991". Leagle.com.
  22. Monsanto To Acquire G. D. Searle. NYTimes.com (July 19, 1985).
  23. Buying Searle A Healthy Move For Monsanto – Chicago Tribune. Articles.chicagotribune.com (June 30, 1986).
  24. Times, Special to the New York (May 17, 1986). "Monsanto to Sell Plastics Segment". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  25. Orange Book: Approved Drug Products with Therapeutic Equivalence Evaluations. accessdata.fda.gov
  26. "Patent US5466823 – Substituted pyrazolyl benzenesulfonamides – Google Patents".
  27. "General information – Posilac". Monsanto. 2007. Archived from the original on January 1, 2008.
  28. Genetically Altered Potato Ok'd For Crops Lawrence Journal-World, May 6, 1995.
  29. 1 2 "The Roundup Ready Controversy". Web.mit.edu. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  30. "WR Grace Sells Agracetus to Monsanto for $150M" (PDF) (Press release). W. R. Grace. April 8, 1996 via BiotechProfiles.
  31. Monsanto Chooses a Spinoff Of Its Chemical Operations – New York Times. Nytimes.com (December 10, 1996).
  32. "Monsanto Raises $700 Million in IPO". Los Angeles Times . Bloomberg News. October 18, 2000.
  33. Andrew Ross Sorkin for the New York Times. 3 December 1999 AstraZeneca and Novartis To Shed Agricultural Units Accessed 27 May 2013
  34. Staff, PRNewsWire. 13 November 2000. Syngenta Begins Trading on the New York Stock Exchange Accessed 27 May 2013
  35. Shand, Hope (Summer 2012). "The Big Six: A Profile of Corporate Power in Seeds, Agrochemicals & Biotech" (PDF). The Heritage Farm Companion. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  36. "Monsanto Company Completes Acquisition of Delta and Pine Land Company, Seeks Approval of Related Divestitures". June 1, 2007.
  37. "Monsanto reaches agreement with Department of Justice to acqui". Hpj.com. June 7, 2007.
  38. Richard Twine. Animals as Biotechnology: Ethics, Sustainability and Critical Animal Studies. Earthscan, 2010 ISBN   9781849776356
  39. Gillam, Carey (2 October 2013). "Monsanto posts deeper fourth-quarter loss, unveils acquisition". Reuters.
  40. Vance, Ashlee (2 October 2013) Monsanto's Billion-Dollar Bet Brings Big Data to the Farm Bloomberg Business Week, Technology, Retrieved 16 July 2014
  41. Associated Press. May 25, 2013, Protesters Rally Against U.S. Seed Giant And GMO Products. The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  42. Picker, Leslie; Hakim, Danny; Merced, Michael J. de la (September 14, 2016). "Bayer Secures Monsanto Takeover With $56 Billion Bid". The New York Times. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  43. "Monsanto Buys Rights to CRISPR". The-scientist.com. Retrieved October 3, 2016.