Years and covering virtually every one of its farmer

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years, and covering virtually every one of its farmer customers, Monsanto wantedmore—the right to inspect the co-op’s hard drives. When the co-op offered to provide anelectronic version of any record, Monsanto demanded hands-on access to Pilot Grove’sin-house computers.Monsanto next petitioned to make potential damages punitive—tripling the amount thatPilot Grove might have to pay if found guilty. After a judge denied that request,Monsanto expanded the scope of the pre-trial investigation by seeking to quadruple thenumber of depositions. “Monsanto is doing its best to make this case so expensive todefend that the Co-op will have no choice but to relent,” Pilot Grove’s lawyer said in acourt filing.With Pilot Grove still holding out for a trial, Monsanto now subpoenaed the records ofmore than 100 of the co-op’s customers. In a “You are Commanded … ” notice, thefarmers were ordered to gather up five years of invoices, receipts, and all other papersrelating to their soybean and herbicide purchases, and to have the documents deliveredto a law office in St. Louis. Monsanto gave them two weeks to comply.Whether Pilot Grove can continue to wage its legal battle remains to be seen. Whateverthe outcome, the case shows why Monsanto is so detested in farm country, even by thosewho buy its products. “I don’t know of a company that chooses to sue its own customerbase,” says Joseph Mendelson, of the Center for Food Safety. “It’s a very bizarre businessstrategy.” But it’s one that Monsanto manages to get away with, because increasingly it’sthe dominant vendor in town.7/10/2015 10:23 PM
Chemicals? What Chemicals?The Monsanto Company has never been one of America’s friendliest corporate citizens.Given Monsanto’s current dominance in the field of bioengineering, it’s worth looking atthe company’s own DNA. The future of the company may lie in seeds, but the seeds of thecompany lie in chemicals. Communities around the world are still reaping theenvironmental consequences of Monsanto’s origins.Monsanto was founded in 1901 by John Francis Queeny, a tough, cigar-smokingIrishman with a sixth-grade education. A buyer for a wholesale drug company, Queenyhad an idea. But like a lot of employees with ideas, he found that his boss wouldn’t listento him. So he went into business for himself on the side. Queeny was convinced therewas money to be made manufacturing a substance called saccharin, an artificialsweetener then imported from Germany. He took $1,500 of his savings, borrowedanother $3,500, and set up shop in a dingy warehouse near the St. Louis waterfront.With borrowed equipment and secondhand machines, he began producing saccharin forthe U.S. market. He called the company the Monsanto Chemical Works, Monsanto beinghis wife’s maiden name.

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