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Sustainability Events

Roundup from the Ground Up:
The Supply Side Story of the World’s Most Profitable Herbicide, 1970-Today

Food Systems

Bartow J. Elmore

  • Assistant Professor, Ohio State University
  • New America Carnegie Fellow

This event is at capacity. Available seats will be released 5 min. before start time. Please arrive early to ensure a seat. Or tune in to the LiveStream here.

Bartow J. Elmore is an Assistant Professor at Ohio State University. He is author of the award-winning Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism and is currently researching a global history of Monsanto. He was recently named a New America Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Elemental phosphorous is one of the key ingredients used to make Roundup. Monsanto mines phosphate in southeast Idaho and processes it in a plant nearby. In the 1990s, the EPA declared both Monsanto’s mines and its phosphate processing plants Superfund sites due to the toxic chemicals and radioactive waste they produced. For years, Monsanto actually sold much of its radium-laced phosphate slag to the nearby town of Soda Springs, where citizens built their homes, streets, and sidewalks out of the material. At the same time, hundreds of animals lay dead in fields adjacent to southeast Idaho phosphate mines. Despite these clear warning signs that there were real human health and environmental costs associated with producing the key ingredient needed for Roundup, federal agencies allowed Monsanto to expand its phosphate operations in the twenty-first century. Digging deep into this history of phosphate mining, this talk engages contemporary debates about the environmental sustainability of using Roundup to produce our food by focusing on the front end rather than the back end of the product’s life cycle. In the years ahead, scholars may well prove that there is a clear and irrefutable link between Monsanto’s herbicide and carcinogenesis, but today, we are simply not there. However, if we look to history, we see that there is a much more damning story to be told about the unsustainable processes that produce Roundup in the first place.

Co-sponsored by The School of Historical Philosophical and Religious Studies.

Lunch will be served.

Friday, February 17, 2017
12:00 - 1:15 p.m.