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CORRECTED: TIMELINE: History of Monsanto Co
November 11, 2009 / 1:11 AM / 8 years ago

CORRECTED: TIMELINE: History of Monsanto Co

In 1982 entry, corrects reference to Monsanto and Times Beach controversy

(Reuters) - Over its 108-year history, Monsanto Co, the world’s largest seed company, has evolved from primarily an industrial chemical concern into a pure agricultural products company.

Following is a timeline of the St. Louis, Missouri-based company’s history.

* 1901 - Original Monsanto founded as a maker of saccharine by John F. Queeny and named after his wife, Olga Monsanto Queeny.

* 1920s and 1930s - Manufacturers sulfuric acid and other chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are later implicated in reproductive, developmental and immune system disorders.

* 1940s - Manufactures plastics and synthetic fabrics

* 1960s - Establishes agricultural division with focus on herbicides.

* 1962-1971 - Becomes one of principal companies supplying herbicide known as Agent Orange to U.S. military for use in Vietnam War. Agent Orange is later linked to various health problems, including cancer.

* 1976 - Commercializes Roundup herbicide, which goes on to be a top seller around the world.

* 1982 - Some 2,000 people are relocated from Times Beach, Missouri, after area is contaminated with PCB by-product dioxin. Critics say a St. Louis-area Monsanto chemical plant was a source but company denies any connection.

* 1994 - Wins regulatory approval for its first biotech product, a dairy cow hormone called Posilac.

* 1996 - Introduces first biotech crop, Roundup Ready soybeans, which tolerate spraying of Roundup herbicide, and biotech cotton engineered to resist insect damage.

* 1997 - Spins off its industrial chemical and fibers business into Solutia Inc amid complaints and legal claims about pollution from its plants. Introduces new biotech canola, cotton and corn, and buys foundation seed companies.

* 1998 - Introduces Roundup Ready corn.

* 2000-2002 - Restructures in deal with Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc; separates agricultural and chemicals businesses and becomes stand-alone agricultural company.

* 2002-2003 - Jury finds Monsanto plant in Anniston, Alabama, polluted community with PCBs. Monsanto and Solutia agree to pay $600 million to settle claims brought by 20,000 Anniston residents of PCB ground and water contamination.

* 2003 - Solutia files Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

* 2004 - Monsanto forms American Seeds Inc holding company for corn and soybean seed deals and begins brand acquisitions.

* 2005 - Environmental, consumer groups question safety of Roundup Ready crops, say they create “super weeds,” among other problems.

* 2006-2007 - Buys several regional seed companies and cotton seed leader Delta and Pine Land Co. Competitors allege Monsanto gaining seed industry monopoly.

* 2008 - Acquires sugarcane breeding companies, and a Dutch hybrid seed company. Sells Posilac business amid consumer and food industry concerns about the dairy cow hormone supplement.

* 2008-2009 - U.S. Department of Justice says it is looking into monopolistic power in the U.S. seed industry.

* 2009 - Posts record net sales of $11.7 billion and net income of $2.1 billion for fiscal 2009. Announces project to improve the living conditions of 10,000 small cotton and corn farmers in 1,100 villages in India; donates cotton technology to academic researchers.

Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Walter Bagley

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