Monsanto Company
Traded asNYSE: MON
FateAcquired by Bayer
FoundedSeptember 26, 1901; 116 years ago (1901-09-26)
(Spun off from Pharmacia & Upjohn)
FounderJohn Francis Queeny
DefunctJune 7, 2018 (2018-06-07)
HeadquartersCreve Coeur, Missouri, U.S.
Key people
  • Increase US$14.64 billion
  • (FY AUG 31 2017)[1]
  • Increase US$3.21 billion
  • (FY AUG 31 2017)[1]
  • Increase US$2.27 billion
  • (FY AUG 31 2017)[1]
Total assets
  • Increase US$21.33 billion
  • (FY AUG 31 2017)[1]
Total equity
  • Increase US$6.46 billion
  • (FY AUG 31 2017)[1]
Number of employees
  • c. 20,500 (regular)[1] c. 2,800 (temporary)[1]

Monsanto Company is an agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation. It was headquartered in Creve Coeur, Greater St. Louis, Missouri. Monsanto developed Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide in the 1970s, and became a major producer of genetically engineered crops.

Monsanto was involved in research on catalytic asymmetric hydrogenation and the first mass-produced light-emitting diodes (LEDs)[2][3] in addition to its work on genetic engineering.

Monsanto was one of four groups to introduce genes into plants (1983),[4] and was among the first to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops, (1987). It was one of the top 10 U.S. chemical companies until it divested most of its chemical businesses between 1997 and 2002, through a process of mergers and spin-offs that focused the company on biotechnology.

Monsanto was one of the first companies to apply the biotechnology industry business model to agriculture, using techniques developed by biotech drug companies.[5]:2–6 In this business model, companies recoup R&D expenses by exploiting biological patents.[6][7][8][9]

Monsanto's roles in agricultural changes, biotechnology products and lobbying of government agencies and roots as a chemical company resulted in controversies. The company once manufactured controversial products such as the insecticide DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange and recombinant bovine growth hormone. Its seed patenting model was criticized as biopiracy and a threat to biodiversity.[10][11][12]

In September 2016, Bayer announced its intent to acquire Monsanto for US$66 billion. After gaining US and EU regulatory approval, the sale was completed on June 7, 2018.


"Old" Monsanto

Monsanto Company Inc.
Industry Chemicals, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals
Fate Acquired by Pharmacia & Upjohn[13]
Founded 1901; 117 years ago (1901)
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Founder John Francis Queeny

1901 to WWII

In 1901 Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, as a chemical company.[14] The founder was John Francis Queeny, a 30‑year veteran of the nascent pharmaceutical industry. He funded the firm with his own money and capital from a soft drink distributor. He used his wife's maiden name for the company. The company's first products were commodity food additives, such as the artificial sweetener saccharin, caffeine and vanillin.[15]:6[16][17][18][19]

Monsanto expanded to Europe in 1919 in a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr, Wales. The venture produced vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid, and later rubber processing chemicals. In the 1920s, Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid and PCBs. Queeny's son Edgar Monsanto Queeny took over the company in 1928. In 1926 the company founded and incorporated a town called Monsanto in Illinois (now known as Sauget). It was formed to provide minimal regulation and low taxes for Monsanto plants at a time when local jurisdictions had most of the responsibility for environmental rules. It was renamed in honor of Leo Sauget, its first village president.[20]

In 1935, Monsanto bought the Swann Chemical Company in Anniston, Alabama, and thereby entered the business of producing PCBs.[21][22][23]

In 1936, Monsanto acquired Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories in Dayton, Ohio, to acquire the expertise of Charles Allen Thomas and Carroll A. Hochwalt. The acquisition became Monsanto's Central Research Department.[24]:340–341 Thomas spent the rest of his career at Monsanto, serving as President (1951–1960) and Board Chair (1960–1965). He retired in 1970.[25] In 1943, Thomas was called to a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Leslie Groves, commander of the Manhattan Project, and James Conant, president of Harvard University and chairman of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC).[26] They urged Thomas to become co-director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos with Robert Oppenheimer, but Thomas was reluctant to leave Dayton and Monsanto.[26] He joined the NDRC, and Monsanto's Central Research Department began to conduct related research.[27]:vii To that end, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories, and assisted in the development of the first nuclear weapons.[26]


In 1946, Monsanto developed and marketed "All" laundry detergent, which they sold to Lever Brothers in 1957.[28] In 1947, its styrene factory was destroyed in the Texas City Disaster.[29] In 1949, Monsanto acquired American Viscose from Courtaulds. In 1954, Monsanto partnered with German chemical giant Bayer to form Mobay and market polyurethanes in the United States.[30]

Monsanto began manufacturing DDT in 1944, along with some 15 other companies. This insecticide was critical to the fight against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Due to DDT's toxicity, it was banned in the United States in 1972. In 1977, Monsanto stopped producing PCBs; Congress banned PCB production two years later.[31][32]

1960s and 1970s

In the mid‑1960s, William Standish Knowles and his team invented a way to selectively synthesize enantiomers via asymmetric hydrogenation. This was the first method for the catalytic production of pure chiral compounds.[33] Knowles' team designed the "first industrial process to chirally synthesize an important compound"—L‑dopa, which is used to treat Parkinson's disease.[34] In 2001, Knowles and Ryōji Noyori won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In the mid-1960s, chemists at Monsanto developed the Monsanto process for making acetic acid, which until 2000 was the most widely used production method. In 1964, Monsanto chemists invented AstroTurf (initially ChemGrass).[35]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was a producer of Agent Orange for United States Armed Forces operations in Vietnam, and settled out of court in a lawsuit brought by veterans in 1984.[36]:6 In 1968, it became the first company to start mass production of (visible) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), using gallium arsenide phosphide. From 1968 to 1970, sales doubled every few months. Their products (discrete LEDs and seven-segment numeric displays) became industry standards. The primary markets then were electronic calculators, digital watches and digital clocks.[37] Monsanto became a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s. Between 1968 and 1974, the company sponsored the PGA Tour event in Pensacola, Fla., which was renamed the Monsanto Open.

In 1974, Harvard University and Monsanto signed a 10-year research grant to support the cancer research of Judah Folkman, which became the largest such arrangement ever made; medical inventions arising from that research were the first for which Harvard allowed its faculty to submit patent application.[38][39]

1980 to 1989: Becoming an agribiotech

Monsanto scientists were among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, publishing their results in 1983.[4] Five years later the company conducted the first field tests of genetically modified crops. Increasing involvement in agricultural biotechnology dates from the installment of Richard Mahoney as Monsanto's CEO in 1983.[14] This involvement increased under the leadership of Robert Shapiro, appointed CEO in 1995, leading ultimately to the disposition of product lines unrelated to agriculture.[14]

In 1985, Monsanto acquired G. D. Searle & Company, a life sciences company that focused on pharmaceuticals, agriculture and animal health. In 1993, its Searle division filed a patent application for Celebrex,[40][41] which in 1998 became the first selective COX‑2 inhibitor to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[42] Celebrex became a blockbuster drug and was often mentioned as a key reason for Pfizer's acquisition of Monsanto's pharmaceutical business in 2002.[43]

1990 to 1999: Moving into the seed market & industry consolidation

In 1994, Monsanto introduced a recombinant version of bovine somatotropin, brand-named Posilac.[44] Monsanto later sold this business to Eli Lilly and Company.

In 1996, Monsanto purchased Agracetus, the biotechnology company that had generated the first transgenic cotton, soybeans, peanuts and other crops, and from which Monsanto had been licensing technology since 1991.[45]

Monsanto first entered the maize seed business when it purchased 40% of Dekalb in 1996; it purchased the remainder of the corporation in 1998.[46] In 1997, the company first published an annual report citing Monsanto's Law, a biotechnological take on Moore's Law, indicating its future directions and exponential growth in the use of biotechnology. In 1998, Monsanto purchased Cargill's international seed business, which gave it access to sales and distribution facilities in 51 countries.[46] In 2005, it finalized the purchase of Seminis Inc, a leading global vegetable and fruit seed company, for $1.4 billion.[47] This made it the world's largest conventional seed company.

In 1999 Monsanto sold off NutraSweet Co.[14] In December of the same year, Monsanto agreed to merge with Pharmacia & Upjohn, in a deal valuing the transaction at $27 billion.[48][14] The agricultural division became a wholly owned subsidiary of the "new" Pharmacia; Monsanto's medical research division, which included products such as Celebrex.[49]

"Old" Monsanto overview

Click on or tap to reveal an illustration of the company's mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs and historical predecessors:

Pharmacia Corp.
Acquired by Pfizer, 2002

Pharmacia & Upjohn

(Merged 1995)

Kabi Pharmacia

Pharmacia Biotech

LKB-produkter AB
(Acq 1968)

PL Laboratories

Kabi Vitrum
(Acq 1990)

(Acq 1993)

(Merged 1995)


(Seed div, Acq 1998)

DeKalb Genetics Corporation
(Acq 1998)

(Acq 1996)

G. D. Searle & Company
(Acq 1985)

American Viscose
(Acq 1949)

Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories
(Acq 1936)

Swann Chemical Company
(Acq 1935)

(Est 1901)

"New" Monsanto

2000 to 2009: Birth of the "new" Monsanto

In 2000: Pharmacia spun off its agro-biotech subsidiary into a new company,[14] the "new Monsanto".[50] Monsanto agreed to indemnify Pharmacia against potential liabilities from judgments against Solutia. As a result, the new Monsanto continued to be a party to numerous lawsuits over the prior Monsanto. Pharmacia was bought by Pfizer in 2003.[51][52])

In 2005 Monsanto acquired Emergent Genetics and its Stoneville and NexGen cotton brands. Emergent was the third largest U.S. cotton seed company, with about 12% of the U.S. market. Monsanto's goal was to obtain "a strategic cotton germplasm and traits platform."[53] The vegetable seed producer Seminis was purchased for $1.4 billion.[54]

In June 2007, Monsanto purchased Delta and Pine Land Company, a major cotton seed breeder, for $1.5 billion.[55] 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.[56] 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".[57]:108 In 2007, Monsanto and BASF announced a long-term agreement to cooperate in the research, development, and marketing of new plant biotechnology products.[58][59]

In 2008, Monsanto purchased Dutch seed company De Ruiter Seeds for €546 million,[60] and sold its POSILAC bovine somatotropin brand and related business to Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly & Co, in August for $300 million plus "additional contingent consideration".[61]

2010-present: Further growth, Syngenta

In 2012 Monsanto purchased for this 210 million Precision Planting Inc., a company that produced computer hardware and software designed to enable farmers to increase yield and productivity through more precise planting.[62]

In 2013 Monsanto purchased San Francisco-based Climate Corp for $930 million.[63] Climate Corp. makes local weather forecasts for farmers based on data modelling and historical data; if the forecasts were wrong, the farmer was compensated.[64]In 2013, Swiss research firm Covalence released its annual ranking of the overall ethical performance of multinational corporations. The idea behind the Covalence research is that there’s value — both for companies and consumers — in measuring corporations against an ethical standard. To complete its ethics index, Covalence compiled both quantitative and qualitative data, spanning seven years, for 581 companies. The data encompass 45 criteria that include labor standards, waste management and human rights records. And because it is a reputation index, the Covalence survey also incorporates media, industry and NGO documents into its evaluation. Monsanto was ranked last of 581 companies.

In 2015 Monsanto tried to acquire Swiss agro-biotechnology rival, Syngenta, for US$46.5 billion, but failed.[65] In 2015 Monsanto was the world's biggest supplier of seeds, controlling 26% of the global seed market (Du Pont was second with 21%).[66] Monsanto is the only manufacturer of white phosphorus for military use in the US.[67]

Sale to Bayer

In September 2016, Monsanto agreed to be acquired by Bayer for US$66 billion.[68][69]

In an effort to receive regulatory clearance for the deal, Bayer announced the sale of significant portions of its current agriculture businesses, including its seed and herbicide businesses, to BASF.[70][71]

On March 21, 2018, the deal was approved by the European Union,[72][73] and it was approved in the United States on May 29, 2018.[74] The sale closed on June 7, 2018; Bayer announced its intent to discontinue the Monsanto name, with the combined company operating solely under the Bayer brand.[75][76]

"New" Monsanto overview

Chart of Monsanto's mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs and historical predecessors:

Monsanto Inc.

(Spun off from Pharmacia & Upjohn 2000)

Emergent Genetics
(Acq 2005)

(Acq 2005)

Icoria, Inc.
(Selected assets, Acq 2005)

Delta & Pine Land Company
(Acq 2007)

Monsanto's Asia subsidiaries[77]
(Sold to Devgen, 2007)

Monsanto Choice Genetics[78]
(Sold to Newsham Genetics, 2007)

De Ruiter Seeds
(Acq 2008)

Agroeste Sementes[79]
(Acq 2008)

Monsanto's Dairy Product Business[80]
(Sold to Eli Lilly & Co, 2008)

Aly Participacoes Ltda[81]
(Acq 2008)

CanaVialis S.A.

Alellyx S.A.

Monsanto's Global Sunflower Assets[82]
(Sold to Syngenta, 2009)

Divergence, Inc.[83]
(Acq 2011)

(Acq 2011)

Precision Planting Inc.
(Acq 2012)

Climate Corp
(Acq 2013)

640 Labs[85]
(Acq 2014)

Agradis, Inc.[86]
(Select assets, Acq 2013)

Rosetta Green Ltd[87]
(Acq 2013)

American Seeds, Inc.

Diener Seeds[88]
(Seed marketing and sales businesses, Acq 2006)

Sieben Hybrids[88]
(Acq 2006)

Kruger Seed Company[88]
(Acq 2006)

Trisler Seed Farms[88]
(Acq 2006)

Campbell Seed
(Seed marketing and sales business, Acq 2006)

Gold Country Seed, Inc.[89]
(Acq 2006)

Heritage Seeds[89]
(Acq 2006)

NC+ Hybrids, Inc.[90]
(Acq 2005)

Specialty Hybrids[91]
(Acq 2005)

Fontanelle Hybrids[91]
(Acq 2005)

Stewart Seeds[91]
(Acq 2005)

Trelay Seeds[91]
(Acq 2005)

Stone Seeds[91]
(Acq 2005)

Channel Bio Corp[92]
(Acq 2004)

International Seed Group, Inc.

Poloni Semences[93]
(Acq 2007)

Charentais melon breeding company[93]
(Acq 2007)

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