Wed, 10 November 2021
Sam and Emma host Bart Elmore, Associate Professor of History at The Ohio State University, to discuss his recent book Seed Money: Monsanto's Past and Our Food Future, on the role Monsanto has played in shaping our agricultural production around the sale of chemicals, and chemicals to counteract those chemicals, all while promoting it as a food production revolution. They begin with the onset of both Professor Elmore’s study of Monsanto, and the seeds of the company itself, with John Queeny’s company serving as a chemical business alternative to the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, despite only really producing sweeteners and caffeine for the Coca Cola company, before his son Edgar takes the reins in the late 1920s and begins to broaden the company’s output to chemicals for soaps and plastics, with his eyes already set on agriculture and food production. Monsanto’s production throughout the next few decades centered on creating toxic compounds for dual purposes: the destruction of human life, and the destruction of unneeded plant, insect, and parasitic life. This resulted in the birth of a variety of new chemicals, starting with DDT and working up to 2,4,5-T, the central element of Agent Orange, in the 40s, as Professor Elmore walks through the effects of the production on the factory workers, who fell deathly ill, facing conditions including rampant chloracne, eventually taking a case against Monsanto in the ‘80s, which would lead to the company leveraging their workers’ own housing against them. Next, he brings Emma and Sam up to the neoliberal era, as Monsanto tried to work away from warfare and back towards agriculture, bringing about their Roundup product in the ‘70s, as it took off in the ‘80s after early EPA approval, a bolstering of the company by George H.W. Bush’s competitiveness council, and a cornering of the market when the company discovered an agrobacterium in the dump outside of their factories that was resistant to the Roundup herbicide. They finally jump into the actual shifting of agricultural industry that Monsanto caused, looking at their pushback of both research that countered the belief that their chemicals would not create resistant bacteria, and of farmers that “benefitted” from their product without purchasing it. Lastly, they cover the continuation of this corporate culture of environmental and agricultural destruction for profit as Professor Elmore dives into the recent production of dicamba and the lawsuits that are currently ongoing, even as Bayer, ironically, has undergone a takeover of the chemical company, all while research surfaces proving that Monsanto’s inventions had no significant impact on food yields. Sam and Emma also touch on the upcoming Starbuck unionization attempt and look back at this day in history in 1898, with the Wilmington, NC insurrection by white supremacists.
And in the Fun Half: The MR team take a call from the one and only Kowalski from Nebraska in the wake of the Monsanto interview, Marlon from LA calls in for some clarification on the two bills working through Congress, and Nancy Pelosi fittingly officiates the wedding of an Heiress to an Oil fortune alongside her appearance at COP 26. Terry Crews puts Amazon storage workers to shame as he proves you just have to be famous and insanely muscular to survive there, Shashank from NY discusses the roots of the term pariah, and Charlie Kirk calls today’s kids gay America haters, and, frankly, we’re honored, plus, your calls and IMs!
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