Seed Money: Monsanto’s Past and Our Food Future

Bartow J. Elmore. Norton, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-32400-204-8
In this sobering account, historian Elmore (Citizen Coke) chronicles chemical giant Monsanto’s rise from being a humble enterprise attempting to “free the American economy from the stranglehold of European chemical concerns” in 1901 to powerful conglomerate. If Monsanto’s “well-meaning men and women fail to look up from lab microscopes and widen the aperture to take stock of the history in which they are embedded, they may fail to see the harvest these seeds might bear,” Elmore warns, before documenting numerous lawsuits against the company and EPA investigations into its environmental depredations. He traces the company’s history, from pushing for the use of saccharine in sodas (consumers would be none the wiser, it reasoned) into “scavenger capitalism,” including its touting of its Roundup pesticide as a way to avert famine and ecological catastrophe. Elmore’s intention was not to create “an indictment of genetic engineering in toto,” he writes, but rather an effort to show how the profit motive tainted even the best intentions at the company from the start. Comprehensive and thought-provoking, this is an essential history for understanding the impact of a major player in modern agribusiness. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 07/26/2021
Release date: 10/12/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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