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Monsanto was founded in 1901, St. Louis, Mo./Illinois, by self-educated chemist John Francis Queeny who developed his business producing caffeine and vanillin. By 1915 sales surpassed $1 million. Queeny brought German technology to his company to make saccharin. In the 1920s, Monsanto became a leading manufacturer of sulfuric acid and other basic industrial chemicals. Edgar Queeny took over operations in 1928 and in 1935 Monsanto bought the Swann Chemical Company, maker of PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls. The toxicity of PCBs was known within the industry at that time. In 1936, Monsanto acquired the Dayton Ohio lab of Thomas & Hochwalt which became its central research establishment, and along with it, 36-yr-old Charles Allen Thomas (1900-1982) who led the lab through the Manhattan Project years and later became Monsanto’s president and Chairman.

As the MED, Manhattan Project, got underway during WWII, Monsanto was contracted to operate the Clinton Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee which it did until the end of 1947 when Union Carbide took over the job and the name was changed to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In the postwar, Projects manager Charles Thomas joined a small circle of renown scientists that created the Acheson-Lilienthal Report and advised President Truman on National Security, concurrently holding the presidency of Monsanto from 1951-1960. From 1960-1965, Thomas was Chairman of the Board and during his tenure Monsanto established a permanent overseas headquarters in Brussels . “Monsanto was also a key player in nuclear reactor development…”

Charles A. Thomas

purchase of Swann, problem with PCBs

Swann Chemical Co., bought by Monsanto in 1935, was founded by William Francis Gary Swann (1903-1962), inventor of the “Swann tube” or “cyngatron”. Swann had a life-long fascination with psychical research and the relationships between science and religion. He was the director of Yale’s Sloan Laboratory, mentor to Ernest O. Lawrence, and wrote “The Architecture of the Universe”. Swann was funded by the Bartol Research Foundation and the Carnegie Institute. Swann Papers

Henry W. Bartol, industrialist, bequeathed funding for the Franklin Institute.


“..after the war [ww2] of the national laboratories shifted from General Leslie Groves and the Army Corps of Engineers to David Lilienthal and the newly created civilian Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). In Oak Ridge, the contract with Monsanto Chemical Company, the industrial operator for Clinton Laboratories, was not renewed. [Monsanto’s continuing involvement became more ‘privatized’ as a Health Physics contractor]. The University of Chicago, the proposed academic operator, failed to assemble a management team, resulting in the selection of a new industrial contractor, Union Carbide Corporation”….”Despite management uncertainties…solid accomplishments in science and technology were achieved. Under the leadership of Eugene Wigner, Clinton Laboratories designed a high-flux Materials Testing Reactor”…
“The first of thousands of radioisotope shipments left the Graphite reactor in 1946, initiating a program of immense value to medical, biological, and industrial science. New organizational units were formed to study biology, metallurgy, and health physics….solid scientific accomplishments were recorded in these fields before the departures of Wigner and Monsanto.”
   “During the war, security concerns required officials to refer to Clinton Laboratories by its code name, X-10. The personnel of Monsanto Chemical Company, the new operating contractor [1943], continued this practice in the postwar years….In official telegrams, Monsanto’s staff referred to Oak Ridge as ‘Dogpatch’…
   “In 1943, General Groves gave Thomas and Monsanto responsibility for fabricating nuclear triggers at the Dayton Laboratory. When Thomas also agreed to supervise the operation of Clinton Laboratories in 1945, he merged both facilities into a single project and appointed himself project director, although he kept his main office at Monsanto’s corporate headquarters in St. Louis”.

Written by citizen2009

November 21, 2009 at 3:24 am

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