Monsanto History & Chronology

Highlighted, John F. Queeny

 1899:  The Sulfur Refining Company in East St. Louis and  owned  by John Francisco Queeny, burned to the ground on its first day of operation.

  1901: A Swiss chemist Dr. Louis Veillon who put up $1,500 of his own money,
and a little more than double that amount from another investor, John F. Queeny began producing saccharin in a downtown St. Louis warehouse.  The  name of this new company is named Monsanto Chemical Works.

The company then added the production of caffeine and vanillin and by this time begins to show a profit.

1908: Queeny quits his part time job with a drug company and becomes Monsanto’s full time president.

1915: The company exceeds $1 million in sales.

1918: The U.S. entered into World War 1 and Monsanto begins to produce strategic products, including phenol, used as an antiseptic, and aspirin.   Monsanto acquired an acid company in Illinois to increase the production capacity of its factory operations.

1920: Monsanto goes international with a 50% venture in a North Wales, United Kingdom firm that, at the time was the world’s largest producer of phenol and cresol.

1927: Edgar Queeny, son of the founder and manager of the company’s export department, insists that Monsanto go Edgar Queenypublic: it does so, on the Chicago Stock Exchange.

1928: John Queeny learns that he has an incurable form of cancer.  Although he was not fully confident of his sons ability to lead the company, John appointed his son as president and steps down.

1929: Monsanto significantly increases in size.  It acquires Rubber Services Laboratories Co. of Akron, Ohio, and Nitro of West Virginia now giving Monsanto entry into key rubber chemical markets.

1933: Monsanto Chemical Co. is incorporated on April 19th.

1933: Monsanto’s product line moves to include the manufacture of phosphorus.

1947 April 15: The French cargo ship S.S. Grandcamp explodes in the Texas City harbor, igniting Monsanto’s styrene plant nearby; 512 people, including 145 company employees, are killed and more than 200 are injured. Edgar Queeny flies to the site, directs the clean-up, and established a special $500,000 fund to help victims and their families.

1949: Monsanto combines forces with American Viscose and forms the Chemstranc Corp.  Monsanto’s research in polymers and Viscose’s experience in textile marketing, this venture begins to “crush it”  in the new synthetic fiber field. Operations in Spain and Australia begin, as well as synthetic rubber production.

1955: Monsanto acquires Lion Oil, and at this time Monsanto’s assets increase more than 50%.

1956: Monsanto begins the foundation for its agricultural group with the commercialization of Randox, a herbicide able to stop weeds before they break ground.

1957: Monsanto headquarMonsanto-1915ters move to the suburban community of Creve Coeur, Missouri.

1960: Edgar Queeny turns over his chairmanship to Charles Thomas, one of the founders of the research and development lab. Charlie Sommer becomes president.

1962: Brussels, Belgium becomes the company’s permanent overseas headquarters.

1964: Monsanto is now involved in nylon and acrylic fiber production, oil and gas exploration, fabricated plastic production, and the manufacture of thousands of specialty and commodity chemical products.  As a result, it is decided that they would drop the word “chemical” from it’s name.

1964: Edward O’Neal, an employee of Swann Corp., becomes the first Monsanto chairman who has not first held the post of president. In response to mounting environmental concern, Monsanto introduces biodegradeable detergents to its product line.

1968: Edward J. Bock, a member of the board of directors, becomes president. Edgar Queeny, the last of the family, dies without heirs.

1971: Bock implements a reorganization that causes a significant amount of friction among members of the board and senior management.

1972: Feb.: As a result of the conflict among management, Bock resigns with no obvious replacement available. A nine-month search yields John W. Hanley, a former executive with Procter & Gamble.

1975: Hanley also takes over as chairman.

1976: To decrease pollution of the environment, the company announces plans to phase out production of polychlorinated biphenyl.  (PCB’s)

1979: Despite its environmental efforts, a suit is filed against Monsanto and other manufacturers of Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War; claims are made that the dioxin in Agent Orange has caused permanent damage to hundreds of veterans.

1983: Sales have doubled to almost $6.3 billion over the last ten years. Hanley turns the leadership of the company over to Richard J. Mahoney.

1984: Monsanto loses a $10 million antitrust suit to Spray-Rite, a former distributor of Monsanto agricultural herbicides; the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the suit and award, finding that Monsanto acted to fix retail prices with other herbicide manufacturers.

1984: The firm enters a five-year agreement with Washington University Medical School; the company provides $23.5 million for research focusing on proteins and peptides. Monsanto and seven other manufacturers involved in Agent Orange litigation agree to a $180 million settlement, immediately prior to the beginning of the trial.

1985 August.: Chairman and CEO Richard Mahoney spearheads the purchase of pharmaceutical producer G.D. Searle, makers of NutraSweet; Searle also manufactures the Copper 7 intrauterine device (IUD). Soon after acquiring Searle, disclosures about hundreds of lawsuits over the Copper 7 surface. Petrochemical businesses are divested.

1986: Sales of IUDs are discontinued in the U.S., but questions as to Monsanto’s management of the Searle acquisition continue on.

1988: Expands Patients in Need, a program providing Searle medications free of charge to people who do not qualify for government assistance and who have no health insurance.

1990: Introduces Simplesse, an all natural fat substitute.

1990: Annual sales reach $9 million with net income of $546 million.

1992 Feb.: Maxaquin (lomefloxacin) receives approval in the U.S. to be used as the first one-a-day quinolone antibiotic medication.

1993: Monsanto has spent in excess of $300 million over the past ten years to develop bovine somatotropin (EST), a genetically engineered product similar to the hormone produced in cows which controls milk production;

U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves the product despite objections from dairy farmers and veterinarians.  The company continues to commit 8% of its resources to research and development in an ongoing effort to maintain its competitive edge.

1994: A federal jury orders Monsanto to pay $81.4 million in damages to International Technology Corp. for the cleanup of a Superfund site in Texas; a few months later the amount is reduced to $43.7 million. President and COO Robert B. Shapiro replaces Richard J. Mahoney as chairman and CEO.

1994: Akzo Nobel NV and Monsanto agree to merge their rubber and chemical operations into a unit based in Belgium. The companies will each own an equal part of the joint venture. Also, Monsanto agrees to purchase Merck & Co.’s specialty chemicals unit, Kelco, for $1.08 billion.

1995:  The EPA gives its first ever approval for growing of plants bio-engineered to produce their own pesticide. Monsanto may plant, but not sell, potatoes, corn and cotton crops that are genetically altered to produce an insecticide. Purchases a 49.9% stake in Calgene Inc. for $30 million, as well as certain patent and technology rights.

1995: Monsanto agrees to pay $41 million to International Technology Corp. to close the long-running environmental cleanup case between the two companies. USDA approval to market a genetically engineered tomato designed to ripen later than normal is granted.

1996: Introduces an improved version of Roundup weedkiller, Roundup Ultra. Increased product safety and faster absorption by weeds are the main enhancements.

1996: Dekalb Genetics agrees to jointly research and develop agricultural biotechnology with Monsanto for the next ten years. Both companies will obtain licensing revenues for products developed during the cooperative efforts.

1996: Monsanto receives a patent for its synthetic genes that allow plants to create their own insecticides. The company files patent infringement suits against rivals Ciba-Geigy AG and Mycogen Corp. for their uses of the gene.

1996: Purchases Asgrow Seed, the second largest U.S. soybean-seed marketer, for $240 million; acquires the plant biotechnology assets of W.R. Grace’s Agracetus unit. Stock splits five-for-one.

1996: Purchases an additional 6.25 million shares in Calgene Inc. obtaining majority ownership. Calgene’s CEO resigns his post. When the company pays $50 million to increase its stake in Calgene to 55%, it also gains control of this company’s board of directors.

1997 Feb. 04: In his State of the Union address, President Clinton names Monsanto as one of five companies he has enlisted to kick off a national effort to create jobs for former welfare recipients.

1997: Acquires Holden’s Foundation Seeds Inc. and its exclusive sales agents, Corn States Hybrid Service Inc. and Corn States International. Monsanto and ArQule Inc. agree on a five-year contract to develop new agrochemicals.

1998- June: Monsanto and American Home Products Corp. (AHP) announce their intent to merge in a stock swap valued at roughly $33 billion. With 75,000 employees and $23 billion in annual revenues, the resulting life science company would be the world’s largest, holding significant chunks of the agricultural chemicals, seed, pharmaceuticals, and nutritional products markets.

1998- Oct.: The Monsanto/AHP deal falls apart after executives allegedly clashed over who would run the merged company. Monsanto’s stock tumbles 26.5%–from roughly $50 per share to $37 per share–on the news.

1998: The firm secures $2 billion in revolving credit and triples its SEC shelf registration to $6 billion. The credit line is used to pursue major seed acquisitions, including DeKalb Genetics ($2.3 billion for the 60% it doesn’t already own), Delta Pine & Land, Plant Breeding International Cambridge ($525 million), and Cargill’s international seed operations ($1.4 billion).

1999 Aug.: Monsanto announces plans to divest its ingredients businesses, which include the Equal and NutraSweet brand names.

1999 Oct.: In the face of opposition from agricultural and environmental groups, and in an attempt to improve its image, Monsanto discontinues its “terminator” seeds, which become sterile in the second generation.

1999 Nov.: The company sells its algins business to International Specialty Products. Pfizer expresses interest in Searle, Monsanto’s pharmaceutical unit.

1999 Dec.: Opponents to genetically modified food file a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto. The suit accuses Monsanto of controlling prices and restricting the trade of its genetically modified corn.

1999: Because the seed transactions have raised Monsanto’s debt-to-capital ratio to roughly 60%, Standard and Poor’s changes Monsanto debt rating from positive to negative.

2000: Monsanto merges with Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc. in a $27 billion deal. The transaction, a merger of equals, creates an organization with estimated sales of $17 billion. Fred Hassan will be named CEO and president of the new company, which will be named Pharmacia Corp.

Detroit News and Free Press: 11-06-93.
Fritsch, Peter. “Monsanto Co. To Buy Seller of Corn Seed.” The Wall Street Journal, 07 Jan., 1997: A3.
Gaines, Sallie L. “Deal Off: Monsanto to Follow Own Path.” Chicago Tribune, 30 Nov., 1998.
Gomes, Lee. “Who’s News: Calgene CEO Quits as Monsanto Co. Acquires Control.” The Wall Street Journal.

http://interactive3.wsj.com/inap-bin/bb?sym=MTC&page=1, 01 Aug., 1996.
International Directory of Company Histories. Detroit: St. James Press.
“Is Monsanto’s Biotech Worth Less Than A Hill of Beans?.” Fortune, 21 Feb., 2000: 157.
Melcher, Richard A. “Monsanto May Be Counting its Chickens.” Business Week, 30 Nov., 1998.
“Monsanto Co. & Dekalb Genetics Will Collaborate on Agbio Research.” Genetic Engineering News, 15 Feb., 1996: 13.
“Monsanto Name Dropped in Pharmacia & Upjohn Merger.” Chemist & Druggist, 05 Feb., 2000: 25.
“Monsanto Receives Gene Patent; Files Lawsuit Against 2 Rivals.” New York Times, 21 March, 1996: C6.
“Monsanto Shares Up Sharply.” New York Times, 16 March, 1996: C6.
Peaff, George. “Monsanto to Pay $1.08 Billion for Merck Unit.” Chemical & Engineering News, 02 Jan., 1995: 8.
St. Louis Business Journal: 06-22-92.
“So Shall Monsanto Reap?.” Business Week, 01 April, 1996: 66.
This Is Monsanto. St. Louis: Monsanto Co., 1992.

Source Citation:

Monsanto Co.” Notable Corporate Chronologies.  Business Insights: Global. Web. Sept. 2010.


  1. Great article! As a ’49 Monsanto baby born at E St Louis Municipal Hospital I know a lot about the company, but even I had no idea how disorganized it’ s development was with no clear purpose except profit and dominance. And now as a denier of their past deeds they continue to profit from Round Up a weaponized chemical agent with profound human health risks! Check out Stephanie Seneff MIT senior researcher.

  2. What impresses me isn’t so much the total domination of ag biotech, but the political muscle this company has. Everybody associated with it runs the world somehow: Jack Danforth, Clarence Thomas, Hillary Clinton, Roger Beachy, etc. etc. How did bST and GMOs penetrate the American and European food supplies with the full backing of Congress and without proper oppositional research? The US gov’t has been functioning as the Business Devpt office for Monsanto for generations now. The same is true for McDonnell-Douglas, now part of Boeing. Oh to be on the inside of this behemoth, instead of one of the 99.99% outside, looking in.

    • Dr. Moskowitz, thank you for your post! I believe you are the first physician “ever” to offer an opinion to our little community. I thank you again for raising those talking points as they are vexing at the very least. I believe the answer is that no one was paying attention very closely. Now that we have hard evidence of food illnesses in living things that can be correlated to GE products and the methods used to produce them – there is concern in the public like never before. I was stunned to see how many former execs from Big Agro work within the US Government covering their legacies and protecting the foundations they laid while they worked in their former industries.

      We must vote with our dollars, that is, the money we spend on the food we eat. Ironically, the United States is one of the only countries on this great planet of ours that allows such a prevalence of Genetically Engineered crops… almost all European countries have either stopped doing business with GMO suppliers or banned them altogether. I did a piece on this in 2013 http://whoismonsanto.com/like-mansanto

      Please stay in touch and thank you again for your post!

      No GMO Joe

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