Monsanto, Bayer and Two Wars

Incendiary exposés of Monsanto products – scientifically proven in court to cause cancers in workers and homeowners who have used them – have caused stocks to plunge, and new owner, German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, to no longer want to use the brand name.  Three multi-billion dollar lawsuits, with 18,000 pending, are quite a corporate burden for Bayer to acquire, along with the $62.5 billion price tag to merge the two chemical giants. However, both these giants have major war crimes, from World War II to Viet Nam, hidden in their pasts.

Sacrificing Viet Nam for Monsanto Profits

Agrochemical Monsanto’s vastly profitable role in the wars on South East Asia of 50 years ago is why Veterans For Peace recently held an ‘Expose Monsanto Vigil’ in downtown San Francisco on August 10th, International Agent Orange Day.

That war was one of the largest chemical poisonings of entire countries in the history of the world – the use of the defoliant Agent Orange on the jungles and food crops of Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos. And the damage to humans and the ecosystem continues today.

The herbicide called Agent Orange was sprayed for 10 years to the tune of 20 million gallons.  It contained Dioxin, the most toxic substance known to science. But dioxin was not a necessary ingredient in Agent Orange, manufactured by Monsanto, Dow and others. A longer processing time would have burned out the Dioxin, however that would have cost a little of the profits, so the contaminant was left in and Dioxin’s gene-warping destruction entered human and animal DNA.

Tens of thousands of American veterans and hundreds of thousands of Viet Namese have died from Agent Orange poisoning in the decades since.  Severe birth defects, cancers & many other illnesses are now passing to the Fourth Generation since the war’s end, with an estimated four million Viet Namese affected today, including newborn babies.

Bayer’s Bargain for Human Lives

Yet another damning piece of history – this one from World War II of 75 years ago – exposes yet another mass chemical poisoning.  It concerns the German-owned Bayer, Monsanto’s new merger partner, and its collaboration with Nazi death camps, as documented and verified in the Nuremberg, Germany, War Crimes Tribunals.

“During the war, Bayer wrote the commander of Auschwitz concentration camp to inquire about “purchasing” 150 women for experiments with sleep-inducing drugs.  After compromising on the price, the letter from Bayer said, [the following is taken word for word from documented testimony at the Nuremberg Tribunal]:

“We received your reply.  Select 150 women in the best possible state of health, and as soon as you inform us that you are ready, we will fetch them….”  And later: “Despite their emaciated condition they were acceptable…… We will keep you informed on the progress of the experiments.”  And again later: “The experiments were concluded.  All persons died.  We will soon get in touch with you regarding a new shipment.”

(Central Commission of Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Poland, Konzentrationslager Oswiecim-Brzezinka – Auschwitz-Berkineau, Nuremberg Documents NJ. 7184, Warsaw: Jan Sehn, 1957, 89.)” From the book, “A Socialist Defector: From Harvard to Karl-Marx-Allee” by Victor Grossman, Monthly Review Press, 2019, Page 304.

Monsanto Back Home

In the summer of 2018, the first of three lawsuits against Monsanto was mounted by a sickened school grounds keeper in California, who routinely used RoundUp weed killer on his job. RoundUp contains, not Dioxin, but Glyphosate. The “voir dire” phase (pre-screening of potential jurors in the “jury pool”) of that first case is extremely instructive.

“Juror #4” Robert Howard of San Francisco, who served during the entire 6-week trial of a year ago, tells of a prospective juror being asked by a bank of Monsanto lawyers, “What, if anything, have you heard previously about Monsanto?”  Answer: “Didn’t Monsanto make Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War?”  “Strike, your honor!” cried the three Monsanto lawyers in unison as they literally leapt out of their seats.  That possible juror was promptly struck from the jury list.

However, despite all their efforts, the 12 chosen members of the jury, including Howard, found Monsanto guilty. Coincidentally, the grounds keeper received the verdict awarding him multi-millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages on August 10th 2018 – the annual International Agent Orange Day.

Plaintiff Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, the school grounds keeper, is a 46-year-old African American married father of three with terminal cancer. The weed killer glyphosate, combined with other ingredients, was proven in court to be a carcinogen. There are no warning labels on RoundUp. As of this writing Johnson is still alive despite suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer. His courage to challenge a corporate giant, along with Audet & Partners, LLP law firm, is truly groundbreaking. Agrochemical Monsanto is appealing, of course, and Bayer has continued to assert that glyphosate is safe, exactly like Agent Orange was “safe” to use in South East Asia on our military and their civilians.

But that is not all. According to The Guardian of London, August 8, 2019, Monsanto created an “intelligence fusion center.” This term is used by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism. As was presented in court, attorneys for the plaintiffs called attention to Monsanto’s alleged efforts to suppress science that suggested the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate by ghostwriting articles and supplying environmental regulators with “bad science.”

In addition, a “multi-pronged” strategy to exert pressure on journalists, scientists and non-profit citizen protection groups was carried out – the Berkeley-based U.S. Right To Know, www.usrtk.org being one. Lengthy reports were even compiled on singer Neil Young due to his 2015 album The Monsanto Years. The multinational agribusiness conglomerate, which is known for being one of the first to embrace genetic food modification (GMOs), actually considered taking legal action against Young.

All in all, both of the corporate giants’ hidden histories in wars of the last century should give the world pause as to their roles and products today.


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Nadya Williams is Director of Communications of Veterans For Peace, San Francisco Chapter 69.

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