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Humphreys DD- 236 - History

Humphreys DD- 236 - History


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Humphreys

(DD-236: dp. 1,190; 1. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 9'3": s. 35 k.; cpL 101; a. 4 4", 1 3", 2 .30 car., 12 21" tt.; cl. Clemson)

Humphreys (DD-236) was launched 28 July 1919 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; sponsored by Miss Letitia A. Humphreys, great granddaughter of Joshua Humphreys; and commissioned at Philadelphia 21 July 1920, Comdr. W. Baggaley in command.

After completing her shakedown training in New England waters, Humphreys sailed 14 August for special duty in the Mediterranean. For the next year she operated primarily in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkish ships, protecting American and Turkish interests in the area during the conniet which followed the Russian revolution. Humphreys did surveying work and acted as station and communications ship. In November 1920 she evacuated civilians from the Crimea during the last stages of fighting in Russia, and, until August 1921, operated oft Palestine, Turkey, and Egypt on maneuvers. She sailed from Constantinople 6 August 1921, arriving Newport, R.I. 23 August, and spent the rest of the year in training operations.

Humphreys spent the next 2 years on ship and fleet training exercises in Atlantic and Caribbean waters. She sailed 21 January 1925 via the Oanal Zone for San Diego, and after her arrival 12 March took nart in important fleet inaneuvers off the CaLifornia coast. In June she returned to New York and her regular schedule of training in the Caribbean. Humphreys maintained this operational pattern until decommissioning at Philadelphia 10 January 1930, taking part in annual reserve training cruises during the summers 1929.

Humphreys recommissioned at Philadelphia 13 June 1932, and sailed 15 August for maneuvers on the West Ooast. The ship took part in two fleet problems, vital tools in perfecting equipment and tactics, before sailing 19 ~ April 1934 for New York, Upon her arrival 31 May Humphreye resumed her readiness operations on the East Goast, taking part in a fleet exercise off Haiti in October. From the Caribbean the ship returned to San Diego 8 November 1934 and for the next year took part in important carrier training exercises in the Pacific. Acting as screen ship and plane guard, Humphreys helped perfect the tactics of carrier warfare which were to exert a decisive infiuence on the coming war. She remained on the West Ooast, with occasional voyages to Pearl Harbor and Midway, until decommissioning at San Diego 14 September 1939.

The veteran ship recommissioned once more 26 September 1939 as the beginning of the war in Europe necessitated an increase in America's readiness. Humphregs conducted shakedown off San Diego and sailed 13 November to join the Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean, designed to protect American shipping. During May and June 1940 the ship took part in a sound school at Newport to increase her antisubmarine capacity, and sailed 4 December from Norfolk for San Diego, where she arrived 2 days before Christmas. There she continued Neutrality Patrol duty and engaged in antisubmarine training off California.

Humphregs was in San Diego when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the war 7 December 1941. During the critical early months she operated as a coastal escort ship between San Pedro and Seattle, but in May she sailed northward to Kodiak Alaska. arriving 31 May 1942. In the bleak Aleutians she escorted transports, patrolled American-held islands, and engaged in exercises with Honolulu, Indianapolis, and severnl destroyers. Humphreps arrived San Francisco 11 November and entered Mare Island Navy Yard for conversion to high-speed transport.

The veteran ship was reclassified APD-12 on 1 December 1942, and, following shakedown training, arrived Pearl Harbor 31 December to prepare for duty in the western Pacific. After amphibious training in Hawaiian waters, the ship sailed to Noumea 22 January 1943 and began ferrying troops and supplies from advance bases to Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Florida Island. During these critical months as the ship repeatedly steamed into the Solomons in support of amphibious assaults, she often fought off bombing and strafing attacks by Japanese aircraft.

After training landings Humphreys embarked elements of the 1st Cavalry Division at Noumea and transported them to Townsville, Australia, in preparation for the invasion of Woodlark and Kirtwina Islands. Arriving Townsville 20 May 1943, the ship sailed for Milne Bay 21 June, and from there landed troops and equipment on Woodlark 23 June without enemy opposition. This first landing of the long New Guinea campaign was also the first for Admiral Barbey's 7th Fleet Amphibious Force, and provided invaluable experience for the numerous amphibious operations to come.

Humphreys sailed to Brisbane for repairs during July and August, and returned to Milne Bay 15 August 1943. There she prepared for VII Phib's next move up the coast of New Guinea to Lae. After putting their troops ashore early 4 September, the high-speed transports remained off the beach to protect landirlg craft from Japanese air attack. The Australian troops landed by Humphreys and the other ships soon took Lae, and the ship departed 7 September with casualties for Buna. On the 10th she returned with three other transports for a night sweep of Huon Gulf, driving away supply barges and bombarding Japanese positions around Lae.

Next on Barbey's amphibious timetable in New Guinea was Finschhafen, where Humphrevs and her sisterships carried out a surprise landing 22 September. After bringing reinforcements 8 days later, the ship took casualties to Buna 8 October and arrived Goodenough Island 19 October for amphibious exercises.

Seizure of New Britain was vital to the advance toward the Philippines as it provided control of the strategic .Vitiaz and Dampier Straits. The first step of the operation was to gain control of the harbor at Arawe. Humphreys sailed with other amphibious units for southern New Britain, arriving 16 December; put ashore raider units in rubber boats to seize harbor islands; then stood offshore to provide gunfire support before retiring to Buna that afternoon.

Humphreys also took part in the Cape Gloucester landings 26 December, re.maining in the Cape Sudest area into Februar,y 1944. She then sailed for the landings in the Admiralties 27 February, arriving off Los Negros 2 days later. Humphreys landed troops at Hyane; steamed to Cape Sudest, and, when resistance stiffened in early March, returned off Hyane with vital reinforcements.

In April the ship began preparations for the three pronged amphibious leap into central New Guinea, the Hollandia operation. Humphreps landed troops at Humboldt Bay 22 April against light opposition and remained off the beaches providing gunfire support. Following the assault, she returned to Buna and sailed 12 May for the United States.

The veteran ship arrived San Francisco 30 May, and was converted to carry "frogmen," the Navy's skilled Underwater Demolition Teams. Sailing again 30 July, Humphreys trained in Hawaiian waters before sailing to Manus 28 September to join the giant invasion fieet for the return to the Philippines, Sailing 12 October, she carried UDT Tenni No. 5 to the Leyte beaches 18 October, remaining close in to provide fire support during this vital reconnaissanee. Next day she patrolled Leyte Gulf for enemy submarines, and continued this work during the main landings 20 October 1944. The veteran ship assisted in shooting down a bomber 21 October before sailing in eonvoy for Manus.

The invasion of Luzon was next on Humphregs' sehedule. After stopping at Noumea and Hollandia, she sortied from the Palaus 1 January 1945 with the Lingayen invasion group. Steaming through the Philippines the ships encountered desperate suicide attacks and shot down many planes. These attacks became more intense as Humphreys entered Lingayen Gulf 6 January; and next day as her UDT team swam ashore for vital reconnaissance work, the ship provided gunfire cover. She remained in the Gulf until sailing with a convoy 10 January, 1 day after the main landings.

The ship arrived Ulithi 23 Jnnuary 1945 and took on a new duty, screening logistics groups during at-sea replenishment and refueling of the wide-ranging carrier striking forces. She screened refueling operations for 5th Fleet escort carriers covering the Iwo landings, then steamed on to Iwo Jima itself 8 March 1945. There Humphreys acted as screening ship until arriving Leyte with a convoy 17 March.

As an important preliminary to the main landings on Okinawa, Humphreps took part in the assault of Keise Shima 31 March, screening LST's and performing escort duties until 3 April when she sailed for Ulithi. This last and largest of Pacific landings was then well underway and the ship escorted resupply convoys from Ulithi to bitterly contested Okinawa until returning to Pearl Harbor 4 June 1945. From there she sailed to San Diego where she was reclassified DD-236 on 20 July 1945. Humphreys decommissioned 26 October 1945 and was sold for scrap 26 August 1946 to National Metal & Steel Corp., Terminal Island, Calif.

Humphreys received seven battle stars for World War II service.


1920s [ edit | edit source ]

After completing her shakedown training in New England waters, Humphreys sailed 14 August for special duty in the Mediterranean. For the next year she operated primarily in the eastern Mediterranean with Turkish ships, protecting American and Turkish interests in the area during the conflict which followed the Russian Revolution. Humphreys did surveying work and acted as station and communications ship. In November 1920 she evacuated civilians from the Crimea during the last stages of the Russian civil war, and, until August 1921, operated off Palestine, Turkey, and Egypt on maneuvers. She sailed from Constantinople 6 August 1921, arriving Newport, Rhode Island 23 August, and spent the rest of the year in training operations.

Humphreys spent the next 2 years on ship and fleet training exercises in Atlantic and Caribbean waters. She sailed 21 January 1925 via the Panama Canal Zone for San Diego, California, and after her arrival 12 March took part in important fleet maneuvers off the California coast. In June she returned to New York and her regular schedule of training in the Caribbean. Humphreys maintained this operational pattern until decommissioning at Philadelphia 10 January 1930, taking part in annual reserve training cruises during the summers 1926-29.


USS HUMPHREYS DD-236 Covers Page 1

Covers should be listed in chronological order. Use the postmark date or best guess.

Each entry provides a link to the image of the front of the cover. There is also the option to have a link to the image of the back of the cover if there is anything of significance there. Finally, there is the primary date for the cover and the classification types for all postmarks based on the Locy System.

Thumbnail Link
To Cachet
Close-Up Image
Thumbnail Link
To Full
Cover Front Image
Thumbnail Link
To Postmark
or Back Image
Postmark Date
Postmark Type
Killer Bar Text
---------
Cachet Category

Not listed in the USCS Postmark Catalog (5th edition, 1997)

Not listed in the USCS Postmark Catalog (5th edition, 1997)

Not listed in the USCS Postmark Catalog (5th edition, 1997)

1933-01-09
Locy Type 5hks
"MARE / ISLAND CAL"

1933-03-05
Locy Type 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / "

1933-10-27
Locy Type 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

Back SAN DIEGO CALIF airmail machine 1933-10-27

Add-on cachet by Michael Brock. Notice the year in the dial is inverted.

1938-09-14
Locy Type LDC 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

1938-09-14
Locy Type LDC 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

1938-09-14
Locy Type LDC 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

1938-09-14
Locy Type LDC 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

1938-09-14
Locy Type LDC 3 (B-BTT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

1939-09-26
Locy Type FDC RECD
USCS Postmark Catalog Illus. CD-R1

Note: 3rd Commissioning Period

1939-11-08
Locy Type FDPS 3 (A-TBT)
"SAN DIEGO / CALIF."

First Day of Postal Service

Note: 3rd Commissioning Period

1939-11-08
Locy Type FDPS 9x

First Day of Postal Service

Note: 3rd Commissioning Period. Cachet by Tazewell G. Nicholson.

1940-07-18
Locy Type 3 (A-TBT)
"NEW LONDON / CT"

1940-10-20
Locy Type SLPbs (55x3)

1941-07-28
Locy Type Fake
USCS Postmark Catalog Illus. CD-3

1941-07-28
Locy Type Fake
USCS Postmark Catalog Illus. CD-3

If you have images to add to this page, then either contact the Curator or edit this page yourself and add them. See Editing Ship Cover Pages for detailed information on editing this page.


Contents

"Pre-Pharmacia" Monsanto Edit

1901 to WWII Edit

In 1901 Monsanto was founded in St. Louis, Missouri, as a chemical company. [18] The founder was John Francis Queeny, a 30‑year veteran of the nascent pharmaceutical industry. He funded the firm with his own money and capital from a soft drink distributor. He used for the company name, the maiden name of his wife, Olga Méndez Monsanto, who was a scioness of the Sephardic Jewish Monsanto family. [19] The company's first products were commodity food additives, such as the artificial sweetener saccharin, caffeine and vanillin. [20] : 6 [21] [22] [23] [24]

Monsanto expanded to Europe in 1919 in a partnership with Graesser's Chemical Works at Cefn Mawr, Wales. The venture produced vanillin, aspirin and its raw ingredient salicylic acid, and later rubber processing chemicals. In the 1920s, Monsanto expanded into basic industrial chemicals such as sulfuric acid and PCBs. Queeny's son Edgar Monsanto Queeny took over the company in 1928. In 1926 the company founded and incorporated a town called Monsanto in Illinois (now known as Sauget). It was formed to provide minimal regulation and low taxes for Monsanto plants at a time when local jurisdictions had most of the responsibility for environmental rules. It was renamed in honor of Leo Sauget, its first village president. [25]

In 1935, Monsanto bought the Swann Chemical Company in Anniston, Alabama, and thereby entered the business of producing PCBs. [26] [27] [28]

In 1936, Monsanto acquired Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories in Dayton, Ohio, to acquire the expertise of Charles Allen Thomas and Carroll A. Hochwalt. The acquisition became Monsanto's Central Research Department. [29] : 340–341 Thomas spent the rest of his career at Monsanto, serving as President (1951–1960) and Board Chair (1960–1965). He retired in 1970. [30] In 1943, Thomas was called to a meeting in Washington, D.C., with Leslie Groves, commander of the Manhattan Project, and James Conant, president of Harvard University and chairman of the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC). [31] They urged Thomas to become co-director of the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos with Robert Oppenheimer, but Thomas was reluctant to leave Dayton and Monsanto. [31] He joined the NDRC, and Monsanto's Central Research Department began to conduct related research. [32] : vii To that end, Monsanto operated the Dayton Project, and later Mound Laboratories, and assisted in the development of the first nuclear weapons. [31]

Post-WWII Edit

In 1946, Monsanto developed and marketed "All" laundry detergent, which they sold to Lever Brothers in 1957. [33] In 1947, its styrene factory was destroyed in the Texas City Disaster. [34] In 1949, Monsanto acquired American Viscose Corporation from Courtaulds. In 1954, Monsanto partnered with German chemical giant Bayer to form Mobay and market polyurethanes in the United States. [35]

Monsanto began manufacturing DDT in 1944, along with some 15 other companies. This insecticide was critical to the fight against malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Due to DDT's toxicity, it was banned in the United States in 1972.

In 1977, Monsanto stopped producing PCBs Congress banned PCB production two years later. [36] [37]

1960s and 1970s Edit

In the mid‑1960s, William Standish Knowles and his team invented a way to selectively synthesize enantiomers via asymmetric hydrogenation. This was the first method for the catalytic production of pure chiral compounds. [38] Knowles' team designed the "first industrial process to chirally synthesize an important compound"—L‑dopa, which is used to treat Parkinson's disease. [39] In 2001, Knowles and Ryōji Noyori won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In the mid-1960s, chemists at Monsanto developed the Monsanto process for making acetic acid, which until 2000 was the most widely used production method. In 1964, Monsanto chemists invented AstroTurf (initially ChemGrass). [40]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Monsanto was a producer of Agent Orange for United States Armed Forces operations in Vietnam, and settled out of court in a lawsuit brought by veterans in 1984. [41] : 6 In 1968, it became the first company to start mass production of (visible) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), using gallium arsenide phosphide. From 1968 to 1970, sales doubled every few months. Their products (discrete LEDs and seven-segment numeric displays) became industry standards. The primary markets then were electronic calculators, digital watches and digital clocks. [42] Monsanto became a pioneer of optoelectronics in the 1970s.

Between 1968 and 1974, the company sponsored the PGA Tour event in Pensacola, Florida, which was renamed the Monsanto Open.

In 1974, Harvard University and Monsanto signed a 10-year research grant to support the cancer research of Judah Folkman, which became the largest such arrangement ever made medical inventions arising from that research were the first for which Harvard allowed its faculty to submit patent application. [43] [44]

1980 to 1989: Becoming an agribiotech Edit

Monsanto scientists were among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, publishing their results in 1983. [3] Five years later the company conducted the first field tests of genetically modified crops. Increasing involvement in agricultural biotechnology dates from the installment of Richard Mahoney as Monsanto's CEO in 1983. [18] This involvement increased under the leadership of Robert Shapiro, appointed CEO in 1995, leading ultimately to the disposition of product lines unrelated to agriculture. [18]

In 1985, Monsanto acquired G.D. Searle & Company, a life sciences company that focused on pharmaceuticals, agriculture and animal health. In 1993, its Searle division filed a patent application for Celebrex, [45] [46] which in 1998 became the first selective COX‑2 inhibitor to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). [47] Celebrex became a blockbuster drug and was often mentioned as a key reason for Pfizer's acquisition of Monsanto's pharmaceutical business in 2002. [48]

1990 to 1999: Moving into the seed market & industry consolidation Edit

In 1994, Monsanto introduced a recombinant version of bovine somatotropin, brand-named Posilac. [49] Monsanto later sold this business to Eli Lilly and Company.

In 1996, Monsanto purchased Agracetus, the biotechnology company that had generated the first transgenic cotton, soybeans, peanuts and other crops, and from which Monsanto had been licensing technology since 1991. [50]

Monsanto first entered the maize seed business when it purchased 40% of Dekalb in 1996 it purchased the remainder of the corporation in 1998. [51] In 1997, the company first published an annual report citing Monsanto's Law, a biotechnological take on Moore's Law, indicating its future directions and exponential growth in the use of biotechnology. In the same year, Californian GMO company Calgene was acquired. [52] [53] In 1998, Monsanto purchased Cargill's international seed business, which gave it access to sales and distribution facilities in 51 countries. [51] In 2005, it finalized the purchase of Seminis Inc, a leading global vegetable and fruit seed company, for $1.4 billion. [54] This made it the world's largest conventional seed company.

In 1999, Monsanto sold off NutraSweet Co. [18] In December of the same year, Monsanto agreed to merge with Pharmacia & Upjohn, in a deal valuing the transaction at $27 billion. [55] [18] The agricultural division became a wholly owned subsidiary of the "new" Pharmacia Monsanto's medical research division, which included products such as Celebrex. [56]

"Pre-Pharmacia" Monsanto overview Edit

Thomas & Hochwalt Laboratories
(Acq 1936)

"Post-Pharmacia" Monsanto Edit

2000 to 2009: Birth of the "new" Monsanto Edit

In 2000: Pharmacia spun off its agro-biotech subsidiary into a new company, [18] the "new Monsanto", [57] focused on four key agricultural crops—soybeans, maize, wheat and cotton. [58] Monsanto agreed to indemnify Pharmacia against potential liabilities from judgments against Solutia. As a result, the new Monsanto continued to be a party to numerous lawsuits over the prior Monsanto. Pharmacia was bought by Pfizer in 2003. [59] [60] )

In 2005, Monsanto acquired Emergent Genetics and its Stoneville and NexGen cotton brands. Emergent was the third-largest U.S. cotton seed company, with about 12% of the U.S. market. Monsanto's goal was to obtain "a strategic cotton germplasm and traits platform". [61]

Also in 2005, Monsanto purchased Seminis, the California-based world leader in vegetable seed production, for $1.4 billion. [62] Seminis developed new vegetable varieties using advanced cross-pollination methods. Monsanto indicated that Seminis would continue with non-GM development, while not ruling out GM in the longer term. [63]

In June 2007, Monsanto purchased Delta and Pine Land Company, a major cotton seed breeder, for $1.5 billion. [64] As a condition for approval from the Department of Justice, Monsanto was obligated to divest its Stoneville cotton business, which it sold to Bayer, and to divest its NexGen cotton business, which it sold to Americot. [65] Monsanto also exited the pig-breeding business by selling Monsanto Choice Genetics to Newsham Genetics LC in November, divesting itself of "any and all swine-related patents, patent applications, and all other intellectual property". [66] : 108 In 2007, Monsanto and BASF announced a long-term agreement to cooperate in the research, development, and marketing of new plant biotechnology products. [67] [68]

In 2008, Monsanto purchased Dutch seed company De Ruiter Seeds for €546 million, [69] and sold its POSILAC bovine somatotropin brand and related business to Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly & Co, in August for $300 million plus "additional contingent consideration". [70]

2010 to 2017: Further growth, Syngenta Edit

In 2012, Monsanto purchased for $210 million Precision Planting Inc., a company that produced computer hardware and software designed to enable farmers to increase yield and productivity through more precise planting. [71]

Monsanto purchased San Francisco-based Climate Corp for $930 million in 2013. [72] Climate Corp. makes local weather forecasts for farmers based on data modelling and historical data if the forecasts were wrong, the farmer was compensated. [73]

In May 2013, a worldwide protest against Monsanto corporation, called March Against Monsanto, was held in over 400 cities. [74] [75] A second protest took place in May 2014.

Monsanto tried to acquire Swiss agro-biotechnology rival Syngenta for US$46.5 billion in 2015, but failed. [76] In that year Monsanto was the world's biggest supplier of seeds, controlling 26% of the global seed market (Du Pont was second with 21%). [77] Monsanto is the only manufacturer of white phosphorus for military use in the US. [78]

"Post-Pharmacia" Monsanto overview Edit

Icoria, Inc.
(Selected assets, Acq 2005)

Monsanto's Asia subsidiaries [79]
(Sold to Devgen, 2007)

Monsanto Choice Genetics [80]
(Sold to Newsham Genetics, 2007)

Monsanto's Dairy Product Business [82]
(Sold to Eli Lilly & Co, 2008)

Aly Participacoes Ltda [83]
(Acq 2008)

Monsanto's Global Sunflower Assets [84]
(Sold to Syngenta, 2009)

Precision Planting Inc.
(Acq 2012)

Agradis, Inc. [88]
(Select assets, Acq 2013)

Gold Country Seed, Inc. [93]
(Acq 2006)

Campbell Seed
(Seed marketing and sales business, Acq 2006)

Trisler Seed Farms [94]
(Acq 2006)

Kruger Seed Company [94]
(Acq 2006)

Diener Seeds [94]
(Seed marketing and sales businesses, Acq 2006)

Charentais melon breeding company [95]
(Acq 2007)

Sale to Bayer Edit

In September 2016, Monsanto (current owner of MiracleGro) agreed to be acquired by Bayer for US$66 billion. [96] [97] In an effort to receive regulatory clearance for the deal, Bayer announced the sale of significant portions of its current agriculture businesses, including its seed and herbicide businesses, to BASF. [98] [99]

The deal was approved by the European Union on March 21, 2018, [100] [101] and approved in the United States on May 29, 2018. [102] The sale closed on June 7, 2018 Bayer announced its intent to discontinue the Monsanto name, with the combined company operating solely under the Bayer brand. [103] [104]

Under the terms of merger, Bayer promised to maintain Monsanto’s more than 9,000 U.S. jobs and add 3,000 new U.S. high-tech positions. [105]

The prospective merger parties said at the time the combined agriculture business planned to spend $16 billion on research and development over the next six years and atleast $8 billion on research and development in United States . [106]

Bayer would also establish their new global Seeds & Traits and North American commercial headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. [107]

Current products Edit

Glyphosate herbicides Edit

Following its 1970 introduction, Monsanto's last commercially relevant United States patent on the herbicide glyphosate (brand name RoundUp) expired in 2000. Glyphosate has since been marketed by many agrochemical companies, in various solution strengths and with various adjuvants, under dozens of tradenames. [108] [109] [110] [111] As of 2009, glyphosate represented about 10% of Monsanto's revenue. [112] Roundup-related products (which include genetically modified seeds) represented about half of Monsanto's gross margin. [113]

Crop seed Edit

As of 2015, Monsanto's line of seed products included corn, cotton, soy and vegetable seeds.

Row crops Edit

Many of Monsanto's agricultural seed products are genetically modified, such as for resistance to herbicides, including glyphosate and dicamba. Monsanto calls glyphosate-tolerant seeds Roundup Ready. Monsanto's introduction of this system (planting a glyphosate-resistant seed and then applying glyphosate once plants emerged) allowed farmers to increase yield by planting rows closer together. [114] Without it, farmers had to plant rows far enough apart to allow the control of post-emergent weeds with mechanical tillage. [114] Farmers widely adopted the technology—for example over 80% of maize (Mon 832), soybean (MON-Ø4Ø32-6), cotton, sugar beet and canola planted in the United States are glyphosate-tolerant. Monsanto developed a Roundup Ready genetically modified wheat (MON 71800) but ended development in 2004 due to concerns from wheat exporters about the rejection of genetically modified (GM) wheat by foreign markets. [115]

Two patents were critical to Monsanto's GM soybean business one expired in 2011 and the other in 2014. [116] The second expiration meant that glyphosate resistant soybeans became "generic". [114] [117] [118] [119] [120] The first harvest of generic glyphosate-tolerant soybeans came in 2015. [121] Monsanto broadly licensed the patent to other seed companies that include glyphosate resistance trait in their seed products. [122] About 150 companies have licensed the technology, [123] including competitors Syngenta [124] and DuPont Pioneer. [125]

Monsanto invented and sells genetically modified seeds that make a crystalline insecticidal protein from Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt. In 1995 Monsanto's potato plants producing Bt toxin were approved by the Environmental Protection Agency, following approval by the FDA, making it the first pesticide-producing crop to be approved in the United States. [126] Monsanto subsequently developed Bt maize (MON 802, MON 809, MON 863, MON 810), Bt soybean [127] and Bt cotton.

Monsanto produces seed that has multiple genetic modifications, also known as "stacked traits"—for instance, cotton that make one or more Bt proteins and is resistant to glyphosate. One of these, created in collaboration with Dow Chemical Company, is called SmartStax. In 2011 Monsanto launched the Genuity brand for its stacked-trait products. [128]

As of 2012, the agricultural seed lineup included Roundup Ready alfalfa, canola and sugarbeet Bt and/or Roundup Ready cotton sorghum hybrids soybeans with various oil profiles, most with the Roundup Ready trait and a wide range of wheat products, many of which incorporate the nontransgenic "clearfield" imazamox-tolerant [129] trait from BASF. [130]

In 2013 Monsanto launched the first transgenic drought tolerance trait in a line of corn hybrids branded DroughtGard. [131] The MON 87460 trait is provided by the insertion of the cspB gene from the soil microbe Bacillus subtilis it was approved by the USDA in 2011 [132] and by China in 2013. [133]

The "Xtend Crop System" includes seed genetically modified to be resistant to both glyphosate and dicamba, and a herbicide product including those two active ingredients. [134] In December 2014, the system was approved for use in the US. In February 2016, China approved the Roundup Ready 2 Xtend system. [135] The lack of European Union approval led many American traders to reject the use of Xtend soybeans over concerns that the new seeds would become mixed with EU-approved seeds, leading Europe to reject American soybean exports. [136]

India-specific issues Edit

In 2009, Monsanto scientists discovered insects that had developed resistance to the Bt Cotton planted in Gujarat. Monsanto communicated this to the Indian government and its customers, stating that "Resistance is natural and expected, so measures to delay resistance are important. Among the factors that may have contributed to pink bollworm resistance to the Cry1Ac protein in Bollgard I in Gujarat are limited refuge planting and early use of unapproved Bt cotton seed, planted prior to GEAC approval of Bollgard I cotton, which may have had lower protein expression levels." [137] The company advised farmers to switch to its second generation of Bt cotton – Bolguard II – which had two resistance genes instead of one. [138] However, this advice was criticized: "an internal analysis of the statement of the Ministry of Environment and Forests says it 'appears that this could be a business strategy to phase out single gene events [that is, the first-generation Bollgard I product] and promote double genes [the second generation Bollgard II] which would fetch higher price.'" [139]

Monsanto's GM cotton seed was the subject of NGO agitation because of its higher cost. Indian farmers crossed GM varieties with local varieties, using plant breeding, violating their agreements with Monsanto. [140] In 2009, high prices of Bt Cotton were blamed for forcing farmers of Jhabua district into debt when the crops died due to lack of rain. [141]

Vegetables Edit

In 2012 Monsanto was the world's largest supplier of non-GE vegetable seeds by value, with sales of $800M. 95% of the research and development for vegetable seed is in conventional breeding. The company concentrates on improving flavor. [62] According to their website they sell "4,000 distinct seed varieties representing more than 20 species". [142] Broccoli, with the brand name Beneforté, with increased amounts of glucoraphanin was introduced in 2010 following development by its Seminis subsidiary. [143]

Former products Edit

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Edit

Until it ended production in 1977, Monsanto was the source of 99% of the polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used by U.S. industry. [37] They were sold under brand names including Aroclor and Santotherm the name Santotherm is still used for non-chlorinated products. [144] [145] PCBs are a persistent organic pollutant, and cause cancer in both animals and humans, among other health effects. [146] PCBs were initially welcomed due to the electrical industry's need for durable, safer (than flammable mineral oil) cooling and insulating fluid for industrial transformers and capacitors. PCBs were also commonly used as stabilizing additives in the manufacture of flexible PVC coatings for electrical wiring and in electronic components to enhance PVC heat and fire resistance. [147] As transformer leaks occurred and toxicity problems arose near factories, their durability and toxicity became recognized as serious problems. PCB production was banned by the U.S. Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001. [37] [148] [149]

Agent Orange Edit

Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and eight other chemical companies made Agent Orange for the U.S. Department of Defense. [41] : 6 It was given its name from the color of the orange-striped barrels in which it was shipped, and was by far the most widely used of the so-called "Rainbow Herbicides". [150]

Bovine somatotropin Edit

Monsanto developed and sold recombinant bovine somatotropin (also known as rBST and rBGH), a synthetic hormone that increases milk production by 11–16% when injected into cows. [151] [152] In October 2008, Monsanto sold this business to Eli Lilly for $300 million plus additional considerations. [153]

The use of rBST remains controversial with respect to its effects on cows and their milk. [154]

In some markets, milk from cows that are not treated with rBST is sold with labels indicating that it is rBST-free: this milk has proved popular with consumers. [155] In reaction to this, in early 2008 a pro-rBST advocacy group called "American Farmers for the Advancement and Conservation of Technology" (AFACT), [156] made up of dairies and originally affiliated with Monsanto, formed and began lobbying to ban such labels. AFACT stated that "absence" labels can be misleading and imply that milk from cows treated with rBST is inferior. [155]

Uncommercialized products Edit

Monsanto also developed notable technologies that were not ultimately commercialized.

"Terminator" seeds Edit

Genetic use restriction technology, colloquially known as "terminator technology", produces plants with sterile seeds. This trait would prevent the spread of those seeds into the wild. It also would prevent farmers from planting seeds they harvest, requiring them to purchase seed for every planting, allowing the company to enforce its licensing terms via technology. Farmers have been buying hybrid seeds for generations, instead of replanting their harvest, because second-generation hybrid seeds are inferior. Nevertheless, most seed companies contract only with farmers who agree not to plant harvested seeds.

Terminator technology has been developed by governmental labs, university researchers and companies. [157] [158] [159] The technology has not been used commercially. [160] [161] Rumors that Monsanto and other companies intended to introduce terminator technology caused protests, for example in India. [162] [163]

In 1999, Monsanto pledged not to commercialize terminator technology. [160] [164] The Delta & Pine Land Company of Mississippi intended to commercialize the technology, [159] but D&PL was acquired by Monsanto in 2007. [165]

GM wheat Edit

Monsanto developed several strains of genetically modified wheat, including glyphosate-resistant strains, in the 1990s. Field tests were done in the United States between 1998 and 2005. [166] As of 2017, no genetically modified wheat had been released for commercial use. [167]

Monsanto engaged in high-profile lawsuits, as both plaintiff and defendant. It defended lawsuits mostly over its products' health and environmental effects. Monsanto used the courts to enforce its patents, particularly in agricultural biotechnology, an approach similar to that of other companies in the field, such as Dupont Pioneer [168] [169] and Syngenta. [170] Monsanto also became one of the most vilified large corporations in the world, over a range of issues involving its industrial and agricultural chemical products, and GM seed. [171] In April 2018, just prior to Bayer's acquisition, Bayer indicated that improving Monsanto's reputation represented a major challenge. [172] That June, Bayer announced it would drop the Monsanto name as part of a campaign to regain consumer trust. [171]

Argentina Edit

Argentina approved Roundup Ready soy in 1996. Between 1996 and 2008 soy production grew from 14 million acres to 42 million acres. The growth was driven by Argentine investors' interest in export markets. [173] The consolidation led to a decrease in production of many staples such as milk, rice, maize, potatoes and lentils. As of 2004, about 150,000 small farmers had left the countryside as of 2009, 50% in the Chaco region. [173] [174] [175]

The Guardian reported that a Monsanto representative had said, "any problems with GM soya were to do with use of the crop as a monoculture, not because it was GM. If you grow any crop to the exclusion of any other you are bound to get problems." [174]

In 2005 and 2006, Monsanto attempted to enforce its patents on soymeal imported into Spain from Argentina by having Spanish customs officials seize the soymeal shipments. This has been an attempt made by Monsanto to put pressure on the Argentinian government for allowing them to enforce their seed patents in Argentina as well. [176]

In 2013 environmentalist groups objected to a Monsanto corn seed conditioning facility in Malvinas Argentinas, Córdoba. Neighbours objected to the risk of environmental impact. Court rulings supported the project, [177] but environmentalist groups organised demonstrations and opened an online petition for the subject to be decided in a popular referendum. [178] The court rulings stipulated that while construction could continue, the facility could not begin operating until the environmental impact report required by law had been duly presented. [179]

In 2016 Monsanto reached an agreement with Argentina's government on soybean seed royalty payments. Monsanto agreed to give the Argentine Seed Institute (Inase) oversight over crops grown from Monsanto's Intacta genetically modified soybean seeds. Before the agreement, Argentine farmers generally avoided royalties by using seeds from previous harvests or purchased from non-registered suppliers. Inase agreed to delegate testing to grain exchanges. About 6 million sample tests were to be conducted annually. Seeds that appear to be GMOs may be tested again using a polymerase chain reaction test. [180]

Brazil Edit

Brazil is the second largest producer of GMO soy. In 2003 GM soy was found in fields planted in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. [181] This was a controversial decision, and in response, the Landless Workers' Movement protested by invading and occupying several Monsanto farm plots used for research, training and seed-processing. [182] In 2005 Brazil passed a law creating a regulatory pathway for GM crops.

China Edit

Monsanto was criticized by Chinese economist Larry Lang for controlling the Chinese soybean market, and for trying to do the same to Chinese corn and cotton. [183]

India Edit

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, public attention was drawn to suicides by indebted farmers following crop failures. [184] For example, in the early 2000s, farmers in Andhra Pradesh (AP) were in economic crisis due to high-interest rates and crop failures, leading to widespread unrest and farmer suicides. [185] Monsanto was one focus of protests with respect to the price and yields of Bt seed. In 2005, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the Indian regulatory authority, released a study on field tests of certain Bt cotton strains in AP and ruled that Monsanto could not market those strains in AP because of poor yields. [186] At about the same time, the state agriculture minister barred the company from selling Bt cotton seed, because Monsanto refused a request by the state government to provide pay about Rs 4.5 crore (about one million US$) to indebted farmers in some districts, and because the government blamed Monsanto's seeds for crop failures. [187] The order was later lifted.

In 2006, AP tried to convince Monsanto to reduce the price of Bt seeds. Unsatisfied, the state filed several cases against Monsanto and its Mumbai-based licensee, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds. [188] Research by International Food Policy Research Institute found no evidence supporting an increased suicide rate following the introduction of Bt cotton and that Bt cotton. [189] [190] The report stated that farmer suicides predated commercial introduction in 2002 (and unofficial introduction in 2001) and that such suicides had made up a fairly constant portion of the overall national suicide rate since 1997. [190] [191] The report concluded that while Bt cotton may have been a factor in specific suicides, the contribution was likely marginal compared to socio-economic factors. [190] [191] As of 2009, Bt cotton was planted in 87% of Indian cotton-growing land. [192]

Critics including Vandana Shiva said that the crop failures could "often be traced to" Monsanto's Bt cotton, that the seeds increased farmer indebtedness and argued that Monsanto misrepresented the profitability of their Bt Cotton, causing losses leading to debt. [184] [193] [194] [195] In 2009, Shiva wrote that Indian farmers who had previously spent as little as ₹7 (rupees) per kilogram were now paying up to ₹17,000 per kilo per year for Bt cotton. [196] In 2012 the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the Central Cotton Research Institute (CCRI) stated that for the first time farmer suicides could be linked to a decline in the performance of Bt cotton, and advised, "cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011–12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers." [197]

In 2004, in response to an order from the Bombay High Court the Tata Institute produced a report on farmer suicides in Maharashtra in 2005. [198] [199] The survey cited "government apathy, the absence of a safety net for farmers, and lack of access to information related to agriculture as the chief causes for the desperate condition of farmers in the state." [198]

Various studies identified the important factors as insufficient or risky credit systems, the difficulty of farming semi-arid regions, poor agricultural income, absence of alternative income opportunities, a downturn in the urban economy which forced non-farmers into farming and the absence of suitable counseling services. [191] [200] [201] ICAR and CCRI stated that the cost of cotton cultivation had jumped as a consequence of rising pesticide costs, while total Bt cotton production in the five years from 2007 to 2012 had declined. [197]

United Kingdom Edit

Brofiscin Quarry was used as a waste site from about 1965 to 1972 and accepted waste from BP, Veolia and Monsanto. [202] [203] A 2005 report by Environment Agency Wales (EAW) found that the quarry contained up to 75 toxic substances, including heavy metals, Agent Orange and PCBs. [202] [204]

In February 2011, Monsanto agreed to help with the costs of remediation, but did not accept responsibility for the pollution. [205] [206] In 2011, EAW and the Rhondda Cynon Taf council announced that they had decided to place an engineered cap over the waste mass, [207] and stated that the cost would be £1.5 million previous estimates had been as high as £100 million. [204] [208]

United States Edit

PCBs Edit

In the late 1960s, the Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, was the nation's largest producer of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) compounds, which remained in the water along Dead Creek there. An EPA official referred to Sauget as "one of the most polluted communities in the region" and "a soup of different chemicals". [209]

In Anniston, Alabama, plaintiffs in a 2002 lawsuit provided documentation showing that the local Monsanto factory knowingly discharged both mercury and PCB-laden waste into local creeks for over 40 years. [210] In 1969 Monsanto dumped 45 tons of PCBs into Snow Creek, a feeder for Choccolocco Creek, which supplies much of the area's drinking water, and buried millions of pounds of PCB in open-pit landfills located on hillsides above the plant and surrounding neighborhoods. [211] In August 2003, Solutia and Monsanto agreed to pay plaintiffs $700 million to settle claims by over 20,000 Anniston residents. [212]

In June 2020, Bayer proposed paying $650 million to settle local PCB lawsuits, and $170 million to the attorneys-general of New Mexico, Washington and the District of Columbia. [16] Monsanto was acknowledged at the time of the settlement to have ceased making PCBs in 1977, though State Impact of Pennsylvania reported that this did not stop PCBs from contaminating people many years later. [16] State Impact of Pennsylvania stated "In 1979, the EPA banned the use of PCBs, but they still exist in some products produced before 1979. They persist in the environment because they bind to sediments and soils. High exposure to PCBs can cause birth defects, developmental delays, and liver changes." On November 25, 2020, however U.S. District Judge Fernando M. Olguin rejected the proposed $650 settlement from Bayer and allowed Monsanto-related lawsuits involving PCB to proceed. [213]

Polluted sites Edit

As of November 2013, Monsanto was associated with nine "active" Superfund sites and 32 "archived" sites in the US, in the EPA's Superfund database. [214] Monsanto was sued and settled multiple times for damaging the health of its employees or residents near its Superfund sites through pollution and poisoning. [215] [216]

GM wheat Edit

In 2013 a Monsanto-developed transgenic cultivar of glyphosate-resistant wheat was discovered on a farm in Oregon, growing as a weed or "volunteer plant". The final Oregon field test had occurred in 2001. As of May 2013, the GMO seed source was unknown. Volunteer wheat from a former test field two miles away was tested and was not found to be glyphosate-tolerant. Monsanto faced penalties up to $1 million over potential violations of the Plant Protection Act. The discovery threatened world-leading US wheat exports, which totaled $8.1 billion in 2012. [217] [218] This wheat variety was rarely exported to Europe and was more likely destined for Asia. Monsanto said it had destroyed all the material it held after completing trials in 2004 and it was "mystified" by its appearance. [219] On June 14, 2013, the USDA announced: "As of today, USDA has neither found nor been informed of anything that would indicate that this incident amounts to more than a single isolated incident in a single field on a single farm. All information collected so far shows no indication of the presence of GE wheat in commerce." [220] As of August 30, 2013, while the source of the GM wheat remained unknown, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan had all resumed placing orders. [221]

Cancer risks of Roundup Edit

Monsanto has faced controversy in the United States over claims that its herbicide products might be carcinogens. There is limited evidence that human cancer risk might increase as a result of occupational exposure to large amounts of glyphosate, as in agricultural work, but no good evidence of such a risk from home use, such as in domestic gardening. [222] The consensus among national pesticide regulatory agencies and scientific organizations is that labeled uses of glyphosate have demonstrated no evidence of human carcinogenicity. [223] Organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization, European Commission, Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment [224] have concluded that there is no evidence that glyphosate poses a carcinogenic or genotoxic risk to humans. [ citation needed ] However, one international scientific organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the WHO, has made claims of carcinogenicity in research reviews in 2015 the IARC declared glyphosate "probably carcinogenic". [225]

As of October 30, 2019, there were 42,700 plaintiffs who said that glyphosate herbicides caused their cancer after the IARC report in 2015 linking glyphosate to cancer in humans. [226] [227] [228] [229] Monsanto denies that Roundup is carcinogenic. [230] [231]

In March 2017, 40 plaintiffs filed a lawsuit at the Alameda County Superior Court, a branch of the California Superior Court, asking for damages caused by the company's glyphosate-based weed-killers, including Roundup, and demanding a jury trial. [232] On August 10, 2018, Monsanto lost the first decided case. Dewayne Johnson, who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, was initially awarded $289 million in damages after a jury in San Francisco said that Monsanto had failed to adequately warn consumers of cancer risks posed by the herbicide. Pending appeal, the award was later reduced to $78.5 million. [233] [234] In November 2018, Monsanto appealed the judgement, asking an appellate court to consider a motion for a new trial. [234] A verdict on the appeal was delivered in June 2020 upholding the verdict but further reducing the award to $21.5 million. [235]

On March 27, 2019, Monsanto was found liable in a federal court for Edwin Hardeman's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and ordered to pay $80 million in damages. A spokesperson for Bayer, by this time the parent company of Monsanto, said the company would appeal the verdict. [236]

On May 13, 2019, a jury in California ordered Bayer to pay $2 billion in damages after finding that the company had failed to adequately inform consumers of the possible carcinogenicity of Roundup. [237] On July 26, 2019, an Alameda County judge cut the settlement to $86.7 million, stating that the judgement by the jury exceeded legal precedent. [238]

In June 2020, Monsanto acquisitor Bayer agreed to settle over a hundred thousand Roundup cancer lawsuits, agreeing to pay $8.8 to $9.6 billion to settle those claims, and $1.5 billion for any future claims. The settlement does not include three cases that have already gone to jury trials and are being appealed. [16]

Dicamba lawsuits Edit

Following a lawsuit by a peach farmer alleging that Dicamba used as a weed killer drifted in the wind from adjacent crops to destroy his peach orchards, a Missouri trial jury found in February 2020 that Monsanto and codefendant BASF were negligent in design of Dicamba and failed to warn farmers about the product, awarding $15 million for losses and $250 million in punitive damages. [239] On February 14, 2020, the jury involved in a Missouri lawsuit involving tree damage caused by dicamba drift ruled against Bayer and its co-defendant BASF and found in favor of Bader Farms owner Bill Bader. [240] In June 2020, Bayer agreed to a settlement of up to $400 million for all 2015-2020 crop year dicamba claims, not including the $250 million judgement which was issued to Bader. [16] On November 25, 2020, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh Jr. reduced the punitive damage amount in the Bader Farms case to $60 million. [241]

Improper accounting for incentive rebates Edit

From 2009 to 2011, Monsanto improperly accounted for incentive rebates. The actions inflated Monsanto's reported profit by $31 million over the two years. Monsanto paid $80 million in penalties pursuant to a subsequent settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. [242] Monsanto materially misstated its consolidated earnings in response to losing market share of Roundup to generic producers. Monsanto overhauled its internal controls. Two of their top CPAs were suspended and Monsanto was required to hire, at their expense, an independent ethics/compliance consultant for two years. [243]

Alleged ghostwriting Edit

A review of glyphosate's carcinogenic potential by four independent expert panels, with a comparison to the IARC assessment, was published in September 2016. Using emails released in August 2017 by plaintiffs' lawyers who are suing Monsanto, Bloomberg Business Week reported that "Monsanto scientists were heavily involved in organizing, reviewing, and editing drafts submitted by the outside experts." A Monsanto spokesperson responded that Monsanto had provided only non-substantive cosmetic copyediting. [244]

In 2017, The New York Times reported that a 2015 article attributed to researcher and columnist Henry I. Miller had been drafted by Monsanto. [245] According to the report, Monsanto asked Miller to write an article rebutting the findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and he indicated willingness to do it if he "could start from a high-quality draft". [245] Forbes later removed Miller's blog from Forbes.com and ended their relationship. [246]

United States Edit

Monsanto regularly lobbied the US government with [247] expenses reaching $8.8 million in 2008 [248] and $6.3 million in 2011. [249] $2 million was spent on matters concerning "Foreign Agriculture Biotechnology Laws, Regulations, and Trade". Some US diplomats in Europe at other times worked directly for Monsanto. [250]

California's 2012 Proposition 37 would have mandated the disclosure of genetically modified crops used in the production of California food products. Monsanto spent $8.1 million opposing passage, making it the largest contributor against the initiative. The proposition was rejected by a 53.7% majority. [251] Labeling is not required in the US. [252] [253]

In 2009 Michael R. Taylor, food safety expert and former Monsanto VP for Public Policy [254] [255] [256] became a senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner. [257] [258]

Monsanto is a member of the Washington D.C based Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the world's largest biotechnology trade association, which provides "advocacy, business development, and communications services." [259] [260] Between 2010 and 2011 BIO spent a total of $16.43 million on lobbying. [261] [262]

The Monsanto Company Citizenship Fund aka Monsanto Citizenship Fund is a political action committee that donated over $10 million to various candidates from 2003 to 2013. [263] [264] [265] [266] [267]

As of October 2013, Monsanto and DuPont Co. continued backing an anti-labeling campaign, spending roughly $18 million. The state of Washington, along with 26 other states, made proposals in November to require GMO labeling. [268]

Revolving door Edit

In the US regulatory environment, many individuals move back and forth between positions in the public and private sectors, including at Monsanto. Critics argued that the connections between the company and the government allowed Monsanto to obtain favorable regulations at the expense of consumer safety. [269] [270] [271] Supporters of the practice point to the benefits of competent and experienced individuals in both sectors and to the importance of appropriately managing potential conflicts of interest. [272] [273] : 16–23 The list of such people includes:

    —EPA assistant administrator, then Monsanto VP from 1995 to 2000. then EPA deputy administrator. [274]
  • Michael A. Friedman, MD—FDA deputy commissioner. [275]
  • Earle H. Harbison Jr., Central Intelligence Agency Deputy Director, then President, Chief Operating Officer, and Director, from 1986 to 1993. [276]
  • Robert Holifield—chief of staff of Senate Agriculture Committee, then partner in Lincoln Policy Group. [277] —US trade representative, then Monsanto board member. [274] —US Senator and chair of Agriculture Committee, then founder of lobbying firm Lincoln Policy Group —EPA Administrator, then acting Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and then Deputy Attorney General of the United States, then EPA administrator, then Monsanto Board member. [278] —Secretary of Defense and previous secretary of Searle, a Monsanto subsidiary, for 8 years [279] —assistant to the FDA commissioner, then attorney for King & Spalding, [280][281] then FDA deputy commissioner for policy on food safety between 1991 and 1994. [274] He was cleared of conflict of interest accusations. Then he became Monsanto's VP for Public Policy, [254][255][256] becoming Senior Advisor to the FDA Commissioner for the Obama administration. [257][258] —Supreme Court Justice who worked as an attorney for Monsanto in the 1970s, then wrote the majority opinion in J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.[282] finding that "newly developed plant breeds are patentable under the general utility patent laws of the United States." [274][279][282][283] —Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and member of the board of directors of Calgene [279]

United Kingdom Edit

During the late 1990s, Monsanto lobbied to raise permitted glyphosate levels in soybeans and was successful in convincing Codex Alimentarius and both the UK and US governments to lift levels 200 times to 20 milligrams per kilogram of soya. [284] : 265 When asked how negotiations with Monsanto were conducted, Lord Donoughue, then the Labour Party Agriculture minister in the House of Lords, stated that all information relating to the matter would be "kept secret". [284] : 265 During the 24 months prior to the 1997 British election Monsanto representatives had 22 meetings at the departments of Agriculture and the Environment. [284] : 266 Stanley Greenberg, an election advisor to Tony Blair, later worked as a Monsanto consultant. [284] : 266 Former Labour spokesperson David Hill, became Monsanto's media adviser at the lobbying firm Bell Pottinger. [284] : 266 The Labour government was challenged in Parliament about "trips, facilities, gifts and other offerings of financial value provided by Monsanto to civil servants", but only acknowledged that Department of Trade and Industry had two working lunches with Monsanto. [284] : 267 Peter Luff, then a Conservative Party MP and Chairman of the Agriculture Select Committee, received up to £10,000 a year from Bell Pottinger on behalf of Monsanto. [284] : 266 [285] [286]

European Union Edit

In January 2011, WikiLeaks documents suggested that US diplomats in Europe responded to a request for help from the Spanish government. One report stated, "In addition, the cables show US diplomats working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto. 'In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain's science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention.'" [250] [287] The leaked documents showed that in 2009, when the Spanish government's policy approving MON810 was under pressure from EU interests, Monsanto's Director for Biotechnology for Spain and Portugal requested that the US government support Spain on the matter. [250] [288] [289] The leaks indicated that Spain and the US had worked closely together to "persuade the EU not to strengthen biotechnology laws". [250] [287] Spain was viewed as a key GMO supporter and a leading indicator of support across the continent. [290] [291] The leaks also revealed that in response to an attempt by France to ban MON810 in late 2007, then-US ambassador to France, Craig Roberts Stapleton, asked Washington to "calibrate a targeted retaliation list that [would cause] some pain across the EU", targeting countries that did not support the use of GM crops. [292] This activity transpired after the US, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico and New Zealand had brought an action against Europe via the World Trade Organization with respect to the EU's banning of GMOs in 2006, the WTO had ruled against the EU. [291] [293] [294]

Monsanto was a member of EuropaBio, the leading biotechnology trade group in Europe. One of EuropaBio's initiatives is "Transforming Europe's position on GM food". It found "an urgent need to reshape the terms of the debate about GM in Europe". [295] EuropaBio proposed the recruitment of high-profile "ambassadors" to lobby EU officials. [295] [296] [297]

In September 2017 Monsanto lobbyists were banned from the European parliament after the Monsanto refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference. [298]

Haiti Edit

After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Monsanto donated $255,000 for disaster relief [299] and 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid (non-GM) corn and vegetable seeds worth $4 million. [300] However, a Catholic Relief Services (CRS) rapid assessment of seed supply and demand for the five most common food security crops found that the Haitians had enough seed and recommended that imported seeds be introduced only on a small scale. [301] Emmanuel Prophete, head of Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture's Service National Semencier (SNS), stated that SNS was not opposed to the hybrid maize seeds because they at least double yields. Louise Sperling, Principal Researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) told HGW that she was not opposed to hybrids, but noted that most hybrids required extra water and better soils and that most of Haiti was not appropriate for hybrids.

Activists objected that some of the seeds were coated with the fungicides Maxim or thiram. In the United States, pesticides containing thiram are banned in home garden products because most home gardeners do not have adequate protection. [302] Activists wrote that the coated seeds were handled in a dangerous manner by the recipients. [303]

The donated seeds were sold at a reduced price in local markets. [300] However, farmers feared that they were being given seeds that would "threaten local varieties" [299] and an estimated 8,000–12,000 farmers attended a protest of the donation on June 4, 2010, organized by a Haitian farmers' association, the Peasant Movement of Papay, where a small pile of seeds was symbolically burned. [304]

Monsanto has engaged in various public relations campaigns to improve its image and public perception of some of its products. [305] [306] These include developing a relationship with scientist Richard Doll with respect to Agent Orange. [307] [308] [309] Other campaigns include the joint funding with other biotech companies for the website GMO Answers. [310]

Sponsorships Edit

    attractions, namely:
    • Hall of Chemistry (1955 to 1966) [311] (from 1957 to 1967) [312][313]
    • Fashions and Fabrics through the Years (from 1965 to 1966) [311] (from 1967 to 1986) [314]
      exhibit [316] and "Underground Adventures" since 2011 "about the importance and fragility of the ecosystem within soil". [317]
    • "Monsanto Environmental Education Initiative", led by Gregory M. Mueller
    • Chair of the Department of Botany and Associate Curator of Mycology [318]
    • Staff of the Field Museum, such as Curator Mark W. Westneat, attended Monsanto meetings [319]

    Monsanto has been a major funder of science research at Washington University in St. Louis for many years. [320] This research is highlighted by the Washington University/Monsanto Biomedical Research Agreement, which has brought more than $100 million of research funding to the university. [321] Washington University built the Monsanto Laboratory of the Life Sciences in 1965. [322] In 2015, Monsanto gave Washington University's Institute for School Partnership a $1.94 million grant to help better teach students in STEM fields. [323] [324]

    In 2009 Monsanto was chosen as Forbes magazine's company of the year. [276] [325] In 2010 Swiss research firm Covalence rated Monsanto least ethical [326] of 581 multinational corporations based on their EthicalQuote reputation tracking index which "aggregates thousands of positive and negative news items published by the media, companies, and stakeholders". [327] without attempt to validate sources. [328] [329] [330] The journal Science ranked Monsanto in its Top 20 Employers list between 2011 and 2014. In 2012, it described the company as "innovative leader in the industry", "makes changes needed" and "does important quality research". [331] [332] Monsanto executive Robert Fraley won the World Food Prize for "breakthrough achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology". [333] [334]


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    Humphreys DD- 236 - History

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    Lies on the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railroad. Tennessee River forms its western boundary, while Duck River Hows through the county. Other streams are Buffalo River, Blue Creek, Trace Creek, Hurricane, Tumbling, White Oak, Big and Little Richland creeks. The face of the country is diversified with plateau, ridge and valley lands. The soil varies greatly from fertile to poor. Duck River Valley is one of the most fertile in the State. Timber is abundant, and is of excellent quality. There is good water power on some of the streams. There are good schools at Waverly, the county seat, and at other points. Waverly has a population of 510. Other towns in the county are Johnsonville, McEwen, Hurricane Mills, Bakerville and Cuba. Some iron ore is found in the county, but has not been developed. There is a woolen mill and a hub and spoke factory in the county. About $30,000 are invested and 50 hands employed in manufacturing. Large quantities of tanbark (chestnut oak) are annually shipped from the county. The principal agricultural products are corn, wheat, oats, peanuts, tobacco and live stock. The churches are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Christian, Cumberland Presbyterian and Catholic. The county taxes per $100 are: for schools, 10 cents for roads, 10 cents, for county purposes, 30 cents. [Source: Hand-book of Tennessee By Tennessee Bureau of Agriculture, Statistics, and Mines, A. W. Hawkins 1882]

    Humphreys County was established in 1809 from parts of Stewart County, and named for Judge Parry Wayne Humphreys. The county seat was initially located at Reynoldsburg, near the mouth of Dry Creek. When the western half of the county was split off to form Benton County in 1835, the seat was moved to the more centrally located Waverly.


    Ryder Van

    On the morning of February 26, 1993, the plotters loaded their homemade bomb, which weighed about 1,200 pounds, into a yellow Ford Econoline van they had rented from a Ryder office in New Jersey. Two of them then crossed the Hudson River into Manhattan, made their way south to the World Trade Center, entered the basement parking garage between the north tower and a hotel, parked in an illegal spot on a ramp, lit four 20-foot fuses, got into a car that had trailed them and sped off.

    At 12:17 p.m. the bomb exploded, knocking out the World Trade Center’s sprinklers, generators, elevators, public address system, emergency command center and more than half of the high-voltage lines that fed electricity to the complex. The FBI later called it the “largest by weight and by damage of any improvised explosive device that we’ve seen since the inception of forensic explosive identification.”

    Six people died, including a pregnant woman. More than 1,000 others were injured, mostly from smoke that snaked its way up the stairwells and elevator shafts. Yet both towers remained standing.

    As rescue workers dug for victims, survivors began making their way out by any means possible. A woman in a wheelchair was carried down 66 flights of stairs by two friends. A choir of kindergartners descended from the 107th floor after being stuck for five hours. A group of engineers stuck in an elevator pried open the doors and then used car keys to cut a hole in the sheetrock walls leading out to a 58th-floor women’s bathroom.

    Nearly 30 people with medical conditions were taken to the roof and whisked away by police helicopters. By late that night, the buildings had been completely cleared. They would not reopen for nearly a month.


    Scandals of Classic Hollywood: The Long Suicide of Montgomery Clift

    Montgomery Clift had the most earnest of faces: big, pleading eyes, a set jaw, and the sort of immaculate side part we haven’t seen since. He played the desperate, the drunken, and the deceived, and the trajectory of his life was as tragic as that in any of his films. A car crash in the prime of his career left him in constant pain, and he drank himself to an early death, creating an aesthetic of suffering that has guided the way we think about him today. But for 12 years, he set Hollywood aflame.

    From the start, Clift was framed as a rebel and an individual. When he first arrived in Hollywood, he didn’t sign a contract, waiting until after the success of his first two films to negotiate a three-picture deal with Paramount that allowed him total discretion over projects. It was unheard of, especially for a young star, but it was a seller’s market. If Paramount wanted him, they’d have to give him what he wanted—a power differential that would go on to structure the star-studio relationship for the next 40 years.

    When the press talked about Clift, they talked about the skill and the beauty, but they also talked about what an offbeat, weird guy he was. He insisted on maintaining his residence in New York, spending as little time in Hollywood as possible. His apartment, which he rented for 10 dollars a month, was described by friends as “beat up” and by him as “terrific.” He survived on two meals a day, mostly combinations of steak, eggs, and orange juice, and he eschewed nightclubs, instead spending his spare time reading Chekov, classic works of history and economics, and Aristotle, whom he praised for his belief in happiness, or the “gentle art of the soul.” When he wasn’t reading or exhausting himself in preparation for a part, he liked to go to the local night court and attend high-profile court cases just to watch the humanity on display.

    Clift cared nothing for appearances: the Los Angeles Times called him the “Rumpled Movie Idol” he infamously owned only one suit. When he came to visit storied fan-magazine author Elsa Maxwell at her home, she had her maid darn the elbow in his jacket. His beat-up car was 10 years old, and his best friends were all outside of the movie business. He was, in his words, nothing more than an “ordinary, second-class wolf.”

    These anecdotes, and dozens like them, would establish Clift, along with Brando, as the embodiment of 50s youth culture, rebelling against conformity and all that postwar Americans were supposed to embrace. Yet Clift would come to hate the image that constrained him, just as he hated the suggestion that he was a slob, unfriendly, or loathed in Hollywood: after the story of his bare closet came out in the Saturday Evening Post, he worked arduously to set the record straight, underlining the ways in which publicity takes a kernel of the truth and expands it into legend. In his words, “I learned that most writers don’t need interviews to write about me. They seem to have their stories all written out beforehand.”

    Clift’s private life was boring—he didn’t date, he didn’t flirt, he didn’t hang out in public. His image was, more than anything else, confusing—unmalleable to Hollywood’s preexisting star categories. But he was handsome and beguiling on-screen, creating an appetite for confirmation of that same Clift off the screen. So the fan magazines got creative: the August 1949 cover of Movieland, for example, featured a grinning, suited, respectable-looking Clift paired with the tantalizing headline “Making Love the Clift Way.” But when readers looked inside the magazine, all they found was a two-page spread of stills from The Heiress, featuring Clift in various stages of flirtation with Olivia de Havilland, extrapolating that Clift’s kissing style was “soft yet possessively brutal pleading, but demanding all. . . .”

    It was a flimsy speculation built on shaky evidence, but with no sign of any “real” lovemaking in Clift’s life, it was all the fan magazines had. Indeed, it was his apparent lack of romantic attachments that confounded the gossip press the most. He had a close friendship with a woman named Myra Letts, whom the gossip columnists tried arduously to frame as a love interest. But Clift’s rebuttal was firm, emphasizing that they were neither in love nor engaged—they’d known each other for 10 years, she helped him with his work, and “those romantic rumors are embarrassing to both of us.” He was also close with stage actress Libby Holman, 16 years his senior, who had become a notorious feature in the gossip columns following the suspicious death of her wealthy husband, rumors of lesbianism, and her general practice of dating younger men. Clift was so protective of Holman that when offered the plum role of the male lead in Sunset Boulevard, he turned it down—reportedly to avoid any suggestion that Libby Holman was his own delusional Norma Desmond, using a handsome young man to pursue her lost stardom.

    Clift was unperturbed by his apparent lack of a love life: he told the press that he would get married when he met a girl he wanted to marry in the meantime, he was “playing the field.” When another columnist asked him if he had any hobbies, he replied, “Yes, women.” But as the years passed, it became more and more clear that Clift wasn’t just picky. He was, at least in the press, something approaching asexual—the title of a Motion Picture article, “authored” by Clift, declared simply, “I Like It Lonely!”

    The unspoken truth was that Clift was gay. The revelation of his sexuality did not emerge until the 70s, when two high-profile biographers, one endorsed by his close confidants, revealed as much, rendering him a gay icon within the span of two years. Today, it’s impossible to know the specifics of Clift’s sexuality: his brother, Brooks, would later claim that his brother was bisexual, while various writings from within Hollywood indicate that Clift’s sexuality wasn’t entirely a secret. In Truman Capote’s unpublished novel Answered Prayers, for example, the author imagines a dinner party between Clift, Dorothy Parker, and flamboyant stage actress Tallulah Bankhead:

    “. . . He’s so beautiful,” murmured Miss Parker. “Sensitive. So finely made. The most beautiful young man I’ve ever seen. What a pity he’s a cocksucker.” Then, sweetly, wide-eyed with little girl naïveté, she said: “Oh. Oh dear. Have I said something wrong? I mean, he is a cocksucker, isn’t he, Tallulah?” Miss Bankhead said: “Well, d-d-darling, I r-r-really wouldn’t know. He’s never sucked my cock.”

    Other testimonies to Clift’s gayness abound: early in his film career, he had purportedly been warned that being gay would ruin him he was so conscious of being seen as feminine or fey in any way that when he ad-libbed a line in The Search, calling a boy “dear,” he insisted that director Fred Zinnemann reshoot the take.

    Clift’s sexuality, like those other 50s idols Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, was carefully concealed from the public. But that didn’t mean that the gossip press didn’t hint at something different, something queer, in the broadest sense of the word, about him. Just look at the fan magazine titles: “Making Love the Clift Way,” “Two Loves Has Monty,” “Montgomery Clift’s Tragic Love Story,” “Is It True What They Say About Monty?” “Who Is Monty Kidding?” “He’s Travelin’ Light,” “The Lurid Love Life of Montgomery Clift,” and, perhaps most flagrantly, “Monty Clift: Woman Hater or Free Soul?”. Benign to most but, in hindsight, highly suggestive.

    Whatever relationships Clift may have had, he was circumspect. Unlike Rock Hudson, whose affairs were very nearly exposed to the entire nation by Confidential, Clift never made the pages of the scandal rags. He was “lonely,” yet with the help of his refusal to live in Los Angeles or participate in café society, he was able to keep his private life private.

    Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun.

    Courtesy Everett Collection.

    Clift earned best-actor Oscar nominations for 1951’s A Place in the Sun and 1953’s From Here to Eternity both times he lost to older actors (Humphrey Bogart and William Holden, respectively), and established his reputation, alongside Marlon Brando and James Dean, as a young outsider whose talent intimidated Hollywood. After Eternity he dropped out of Hollywood for several years, and signed a three-year contract with MGM in 1955 to make Raintree County, which re-united him with his Place in the Sun co-star Elizabeth Taylor. The script wasn’t necessarily that special, but it would give him a chance to re-unite with Elizabeth Taylor, and that, it seemed, was enough to pull him out of semi-retirement.

    Taylor had married British actor Michael Wilding in 1952, but by 1956, their marriage was in decline. During the filming of Raintree County, Clift and Taylor seemed to have rekindled their is-it-or-isn’t-it relationship according to one of Clift’s biographers, “Some days he would threaten to stop seeing Elizabeth Taylor—then, the thought would make him burst into tears.” Other apocryphal legend has Taylor sending Clift piles of love letters, which he then read aloud to his male companion at the time. It’s impossible for us to know what happened—or if the two even had a relationship that went beyond the platonic—but it was returning from a party at Taylor’s house, mid-filming for Raintree County, that he smashed his car into a telephone pole.

    Moments after the accident, actor Kevin McCarthy, driving in front of Clift, ran back to check on him, seeing that “his face was torn away—a bloody pulp. I thought he was dead.” McCarthy ran to fetch Taylor, Wilding, and Rock Hudson and Hudson’s wife, Phyllis Gates, who all raced to the site of the accident. What happened next is somewhat fuzzy: one version has Hudson pulling Clift from the car and Taylor cradling him in her arms, at which point Clift started choking and motioning to his throat, where, it soon became clear, two of his teeth had lodged themselves after coming loose during the accident. Taylor opened his mouth, put her hand down his throat, and pulled out the teeth. True or not, the resilience of the story is a testimony to what people wanted to believe about the bond between the two stars. According to this version of the story, when photographers arrived, Taylor announced that she knew each and every one of them personally-- and if they took pictures of Clift, who was still very much alive, she’d make sure they never worked in Hollywood again. Regardless of the veracity of this story, one thing remains true: there’s not a single picture of Clift’s broken face.

    According to Clift’s doctors, it was “amazing” that he was even alive. But after an initial flurry of coverage, he retreated from public view entirely. Months of surgeries, rebuilding, and physical therapy followed. Production resumed on Raintree County, which the studio feared would fail following Clift’s accident. But Clift knew the film would be a smash, if only because audiences would want to compare his long unseen face from before and after the accident. In truth, his face wasn’t truly disfigured. It was, however, much older—by the time Raintree County made its way to theaters, he’d been off the screen for four and a half years. But the facial reconstruction, heavy painkiller use, and rampant alcohol abuse made it look like he’d aged a decade.

    And thus began what Robert Lewis, Clift’s teacher at the Actors Studio, called “the longest suicide in Hollywood history.” Even before Raintree, the decline had been visible. Author Christopher Isherwood tracked Clift’s decline in his journals, and by August 1955, he was “drinking himself out of a career” on the set of Raintree, the crew had designated words to communicate how drunk Clift was: bad was Georgia, very bad was Florida, and worst of all was Zanzibar. “Nearly all his good looks are gone,” Isherwood wrote. “He has a ghastly, shattered expression.” And it wasn’t just in private record: in October 1956, Louella Parsons reported on Clift’s “very bad health” and Holman’s attempts to clean him up. His decline was never explicitly evoked, but with his visage in Raintree County, it was there for all to see.

    While filming his next picture, Lonelyhearts (1958), Clift lashed out, proclaiming, “I am not—repeat not—a member of the Beat Generation. I am not one of America’s Angry Young Men. I do not count myself as a member of the ripped-sweatshirt fraternity.” He wasn’t a “young rebel, an old rebel, a tired rebel, or a rebellious rebel”—all he cared about was re-creating a “slice of life” on the screen. He was sick of being a symbol, a symptom, a testament to something.

    In The Young Lions (1958), released just two years after the accident, the pain and resentment seem almost visible. It’d be his only film with Brando, even though the two barely shared the screen. Taylor, at last free from her long-standing contract with MGM, next used her power as the biggest star in Hollywood to insist that Clift be cast in her new project, Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). It was a huge wager: since everyone knew how much booze and pills Clift was on, he was virtually uninsurable on set. But the producer, Sam Spiegel, decided to go forward, no matter the risk.

    The results were not pretty. Clift couldn’t get through longer scenes, having to split them up into two or three chunks. The subject matter, which involved him assisting in the cover-up of a dead man’s apparent homosexuality, must have sparked mixed emotions. Director Joseph Mankiewicz tried to replace Clift, but Taylor and co-star Katharine Hepburn defended and supported him. Hepburn was reportedly so incensed by Mankiewicz’s treatment of Clift that when the film officially wrapped, she found the director and spat in his face.

    The decline continued. Clift appeared in The Misfits, a revisionist western best known as the final film of Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable. The director, John Huston, supposedly brought in Clift because he thought he’d have a “soothing effect” on Monroe, who was deeply embroiled in her own addictions, with her own personal demons. But even Monroe reported that Clift was “the only person I know who is in even worse shape than I am.” The pictures from the set are as poignant as they are heartbreaking: it’s as if all three were meditating on their respective declines, and there’s a sad, peaceful resignation at the difference between what their bodies could do and how people wanted to remember them.

    But 1961 audiences were too close to the day-to-day deterioration of its stars to see the meditative genius of The Misfits. It was also a dark, melancholy film: as a review in Variety pointed out, the “complex mass of introspective conflicts, symbolic parallels, and motivational contradictions” was so nuanced as to “seriously confound” general audiences, who were likely unable to cope with the philosophical undercurrents of the Arthur Miller script. Or, as Bosley Crowther, taking the populist slant in The New York Times, explained, the characters were amusing, but they were also “shallow and inconsequential, and that is the dang-busted trouble with this film.”

    Whether morally repulsive or philosophically compelling, The Misfits bombed, only to be recuperated, years later, as a masterpiece of the revisionist genre. Looking back, the film had a legacy of darkness surrounding it: Gable died of a heart attack less than a month after filming Monroe was only able to attend the film’s premiere with a pass from her stay at a psychiatric ward. She wouldn’t die for another year and a half, but Misfits would be her last completed film. As for Clift, the shoot was incredibly taxing, both mentally and physically: in addition to acquiring a scar across his nose from a stray bull’s horn, severe rope burns while attempting to tame a wild horse, and various other rough-and-tumble injuries, he also performed what has widely come to be regarded as one of his best scenes, a stilted, heartbreaking conversation with his mother from a phone booth. Even if Clift himself was already spiraling out of control, playing a character that did the same only amplified the psychological toll.

    Following The Misfits, Clift’s disintegration continued. He was such a mess on the set of Freud (1962) that Universal sued him. While filming a 15-minute supporting role as a mentally handicapped victim of the Holocaust in Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), he had to ad-lib all of his lines. But something of the old talent remained—or at least enough to earn Clift a nomination for best-supporting actor, playing, in the words of film critic David Thomson, “a victim irretrievably damaged by suffering.” Plans for Clift to play the lead in the film adaptation of Carson McCullers’s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter fell through, in large part due to his uninsurability on set, and promises of a fourth collaboration with Taylor, this time with producer Ray Stark, never came to pass. Between 1963 and 1966, he faded from public view, emerging only to film a final performance in the French spy thriller The Defector (1966). But before the film could be released, Clift passed away, wholly without fanfare, at the age of 45, succumbing to years of drug and alcohol abuse. Taylor, caught up in filming with Richard Burton in Paris, sent flowers to the funeral. The long suicide was complete.

    Many Hollywood stars have committed versions of the long suicide. Biographies of Clift posit that he drank because he couldn’t be his true self, because homosexuality was the shame he had to shelter within. But if you look at his own words, his testimonies about what acting did to him, you’ll see the culprit. His perpetual question to himself, as he once scribbled in his journal, was, “How to remain thin-skinned, vulnerable, and still alive?” For Clift, the task proved impossible. Clift once said, “The closer we come to the negative, to death, the more we blossom.” He took himself to that precipice, but he fell straight in. And so he remains frozen in the popular imagination, circa From Here to Eternity—those high cheekbones, that set jaw, the firm stare: a magnificent, proud, tragically broken thing to behold.

    From Scandals of Classic Hollywood: Sex, Deviance, and Drama from the Golden Age of Hollywood Cinema by Anne Helen Petersen, to be published by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC on September 30, 2014 © 2014 by Anne Helen Petersen.


    Everything You Know About Corsets Is False

    The corset has a bad reputation. And unfairly so, according to Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, who says this undergarment of centuries past is not nearly as evil or confining as modern folks have come to believe.

    With the Edwardian Balls just around the corner, we started ogling gorgeous antique corsets on the Internet, including this 1895 pink-and-black Y&N corset (right). Then, we asked Steele, the author of The Corset: A Cultural History, to set the record straight about this much-maligned piece of fashion history. Here are her top three misunderstood facts about corsets:

    1. Thirteen-inch waists are a thing of myths.

    Even though so-called “tight-lacing” was popular during the late 1800s, women rarely reduced their waists more than 1-2 inches. Generally, a corset with a 20-inch waist would be worn with a gap in the back, so the woman’s corseted waist measured between 22 and 26 inches. Where did these tales of ladies of the court and their obscenely tiny 13-inch waists come from? Fetish fantasy literature of the era.

    “A lot of people believe in the 16-inch waist being typical when, of course, most corsets were no smaller than in the 20s,” Steele says. “Most people would reduce by a couple of inches. You can reduce it 4 inches or so, but most women were not going to be doing any more than that.”

    2. Corsets did not create misshapen livers or life-threatening diseases.

    A long corset made by CK in Belgium, circa 1890. From the collection of L. Hidic, corsetsandcrinolines.com, via The Antique Corset Gallery.

    Over the years, corsets have been credited with causing a whole litany of health problems. It’s been said that they misshape internal organs and cause cancer. Other illnesses attributed to corsets were fake, sexist conditions, like “hysteria.” There’s also no record of a woman having a rib surgically removed so she could better fit into a corset, which is a particularly absurd myth, given how deadly surgery was in the 1800s.

    Of course, they weren’t exactly the healthiest things to wear every day, either. They did force organs to shift around, cause indigestion and constipation, and eventually weakened back muscles. And they didn’t leave a lot room for pregnant women’s fetus-incubating bellies. But deadly they were not. They also didn’t prevent women from doing their work—any more than, say, stiletto heels do.

    “Most people today think corsets were extremely dangerous and caused all kinds of health problems, from cancer to scoliosis,” Steele says. “And that’s quite inaccurate. Most of the diseases that have been credited to corsets, in fact, had other causes. Corsets did not cause scoliosis, the crushing of the liver, cancer, or tuberculosis. It doesn’t mean that corsets were without any health problems, but it does mean that most modern people are wildly naive in believing the most absurd antiquated medical accusations about corsetry.

    “For example, the idea of the misshapen liver seems to be a mistake based on the fact that there is a lot of variation in the shape of livers. When doctors did autopsies, they would see these weird-looking livers and they’d go, ‘That was caused by the corset.'”

    3. Men did not force women into corsets.

    Madame Lemay silk damask corset, circa 1901. From the collection of M. Talkington, laceembrace.com, via The Antique Corset Gallery.

    Steele says women wore corsets quite on their own volition. Men, in fact, regularly protested corsets, claiming they caused hysteria and the other health problems mentioned above. Women wore the corset because it made them feel attractive and properly dressed, she says, two important indicators of status. However, they were intended to reshape the natural body to what women perceived as the most ideal figure—meaning the most youthful and sexually desirable. Men might not have oppressed women by demanding they wear corsets, but women certainly wore them to impress men and assert their rank among other women.

    “The corset was associated with high status and with respectability, indicating you’re not loose,” Steele says. “Also, it enhances the sexually dimorphic curves of the female body. It acts like a proto-Wonderbra and also emphasizes the waist-hip differential, which makes you look younger, slimmer, and curvier—which is still what everybody wants. But now women get on a StairMaster or get plastic surgery instead of putting on a corset.”

    A hand-made cone-shaped stay corset from circa 1786. From the collection of K. Augusta, antique-fashion.com, via The Antique Corset Gallery.

    In early 16th century Europe, corsets called “payre of bodies” pushed the breasts upward and shaped the torso into a slim cylinder, thanks to boning made of horn, buckram or whalebone, and a flat wooden “busk” running down the center. But by the 17th century, corsets took on more of a cone-like shape, often made of two separate pieces of boned fabric known as stays, held together in the front with the busk. For a brief time, from 1800 to 1830, the Napoleonic high “empire waist” look freed bellies from the confines of waist-constricting stays, as corsets became smaller and closer to modern-day bras.

    The Victorian Era revived the desire for wasp waists and hourglass silhouettes, and so corsets, now extending below the waist and incorporating steel boning, created that shape. Curves were further exaggerated with big shoulders in blouses, and huge hoop skirts over layers of crinoline. Also, new manufacturing technology allowed for affordable mass-produced corsets, which had previously been custom-made to a woman’s measurements.

    This illustration from a 1900 issue of Ladies Home Journal shows the change from Victorian to Edwardian silhouettes.

    The Edwardian period hailed a whole new corset shape. This decade at the turn-of-the-century (1901-1910) represented a tremendous time of transition in fashion, as the elaborate getups of the Victorian Era got a bit more ridiculous, and then fell out of style all together.

    A corsetier with an M.D., Inès Gaches-Sarraute, came up with the straight-front corset—also known as the “swan-bill,” “S-line,” or “S-bend” corsets—which he believed kept the pressure off a woman’s stomach. But these corsets forced women to tilt awkwardly, hips back, breasts forward, and created an exaggerated S-shape in the back. Of course, these were probably much worse for one’s health, putting all sorts of strain on the spine by forcing such an awkward posture. But if a woman were to dress as an authentic Edwardian, this is the sort of corset she’d wear.

    Bianca Lyons in typical Edwardian dress, circa 1902. Image from the U.S. Library of Congress, copyright E. Chickering.

    Between 1908 and 1914, fashion favored a more natural shape, but corsets got even bigger and more complicated, extending down to the thigh and creating a higher waist.

    An early 1910s longline corset made from bow patterned pink brocade. From the collection of L. Hidic, corsetsandcrinolines.com, via The Antique Corset Gallery.

    “You’re getting a shift away from what high Victorian and Edwardian fashion writers described as ‘the Venus ideal’ and a movement towards ‘the Diana ideal,’ which was slimmer and more athletic,” Steele says. “So increasingly, people started to say that they didn’t need to wear a corset, that their body was already ideal. Often, when you read old interviews, actresses will say, ‘I don’t need to wear a corset,’ but you look at their photograph and you go, ‘Babe, you are so wearing a corset.'”

    In the 1910s and 1920s, as women became more interested in sports and clothes that allowed for a greater freedom of movement, the socially desirable silhouette changed to a thinner, more streamlined figure. New elastics allowed for shaping undergarments that narrowed the hips without the use of steel boning.

    “By the 1910s, the tango had become trendy,” Steele says. “If you had a boned corset, your movements weren’t right, so people would wear these boneless tango corsets, which are just long elasticized girdles. And there began to be a gradual movement towards dieting and exercise as the way to control the way your body looks. By the 󈧘s, of course, your clothes were showing more of your body. You couldn’t hide behind corsetry so much anymore.”

    While these new hip-controlling girdles and breast-supporting brassieres became the order of the day, corsets made a comeback briefly in the late 1930s—after World War II interrupted fashion, they returned again for Dior’s New Look, which emphasized small waists, full busts, and big flowing skirts. They went out of fashion again when 󈨀s mod style brought back the short skirts and girlish figure of the 󈧘s and the hippie movement embraced more natural body shapes.

    “When you read old interviews, actresses will say, ‘I don’t need to wear a corset,’ but you look at their photograph and you go, ‘Babe, you are so wearing a corset.'”

    Up until the punk movement of the 󈨊s, corsets were strictly undergarments, never intended to be worn in public. In their quest to be shocking, punks started wearing old-fashioned lingerie as outerwear. Haute couture designers like Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier quickly put this brazenly sexy look, drawn from the bondage porn of early decades, on the runway. Then, in the 󈨔s, mega pop stars like Cyndi Lauper and Madonna brought it to mainstream America.

    Ever an object of fascination and debate, the corset will make its way out of the closet in the coming weeks, as the Edwardian Ball hits San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom on Jan. 20 and 21 and Los Angeles this spring, date and location to be announced. These events are a fantastical and Halloweeny celebration of macabre mid-century illustrator Edward Gorey, as well as of the fashions of the Edwardians.

    This year, Edwardian Ball goers will surely see plenty of outerwear corsets at the events, where people let their imaginations run wild a la Burning Man and mine countercultures like goth, bondage, and steampunk for inspiration. But for ladies who value historically accuracy, the swan-bill corsets will be worn more discreetly under the layers of lace, ruffles, and ribbons of their gorgeous period-perfect gowns.

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    42 comments so far

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It seems like every publication about corsets is so badly tainted with these false ideas about how dangerous they are that there’s hardly any real information in them. It’s so nice to see a well written article about this. I do disagree with the part about the Edwardian corsets. Edwardian corsets apply pressure to the body in a different way, but they in no way force the body into that arched back posture. Somebody did there own study about it on FoundationsRevealed.com and basically came to the conclusion (and I agree from my own studies) that while the pictures from that era show a lot of this posture, it was just the fashionable posture that was used for pictures. Nobody went about their day to day life trying to hold that absurd posture. It’s like following the fashionable facial expressions for photography, early photos are all frowns, but nowadays we smile for the camera.

    In addition to all of the myths you so wonderfully refuted, I’ve heard people claim that Edwardian corsets actually distort the figure into that extreme pigeon-chested shape! I’m guessing they came to this conclusion by looking at illustrations from the time. I did a little happy dance the first time I came across adds for Edwardian era bust enhancers, I’m sure women have been coming up with ingenious ways of padding their “bras” since they’ve had the support garments to “pad”.

    It has been my experience that no woman (laced up by me!) has ever complained about being uncomfortable. Quite the opposite! I can hardly get them to take the corset off!

    Thank you so much for this article!

    The corset is an invention of Roxey Ann[a] Caplin. The corset was first widely used after 1851. Before 1851 woman used pair of stays, which hung down on the shoulders. Corset was a reform dress with free moveable shoulders.

    Thirteen-inch waists are not a thing of myths. A pattern of 13 inches in the waist is 33.02 cm + 10%/12% stretch + lacing (about a inches) + bones and fabric thickness (c. 0,7cm +c. 0,7cm +c. 0,7cm +c. 0,7cm)= c. 41.6 cm = about 17 inch. Corsetmaker pattern goal of the corset is not the same as the lady’s waist circumference outside of the corset.

    The corsetmakers tell as some corsets do create misshapen livers or life-threatening diseases. It requires anatomical knowledge to make tight corsets. Not everyone has this knowledge.

    I wear corsets to work almost every day. The only problem i have ever had with a corset is it not being big enough for my breasts, and crushing them in part while another part spills over. I actually wear the corset because of back pain that i get- conveniently i do not have back pain when i wear the corset. Hurrah!

    Thank you so much! I have always loved wearing corsets and have hated the bad press. Hell, I would wear more corsets if they weren’t so expensive! They have helped my back feel better and I love they way I look in them. So thank you again for throwing light on a subject so many just don’t have all the information on.

    It’s nice to see someone supporting corsets out there! We often get asked many questions about the health an safety of corsets when people come to see us in our shop. Hopefully with this you are able to spread the information more widely and people will become more acceptable to the corset again. Yeay!! I have even linked it off my website http://www.corset.ie to help. Many thanks.

    i am male 38, i do wearing corset. actually that is girdle, but people in my country call it corset. i love being corseted because it can hold my stomach and i feel much more comfortable in my corset. i really want to have a real corset but i think i cant afford because of the price.

    Debunking myths about women and body image is always a pleasure to read!

    Peter, you’re misrepresenting things. A pattern dimension, as you even state, is not what it would be when worn. To say that “Thirteen-inch waists are not a thing of myths” is a misnomer, as you are referring to the corset measurement itself and not a woman’s actual waist measurement when worn. As you even state. That’s the exact kind of mis-information this article is trying to eliminate. Many of those tiny corsets were actually mannequin models for shop windows (beautify made, never worn leads to easy preservation), and you know how accurate mannequins are in store windows.

    There is a huge difference the between body modification through tight lacing you mention and lacing in to take 2 inches off your waist measurement. It’s like saying because I exercise I must watch every calorie I eat and purge when I over do it. The women of their day who practiced those sorts of extreme tight lacing techniques regularly today be anorexic with stretched out tendons in her legs due to constant heel wearing, their own sort of body modification. Just because it happens doesn’t make it normal.

    Just as there are many different styles of corset, there are many different shapes of bodies and different physical health requirements. Some people may be able to wear a specific style of corset all day without causing health problems. But others may not. I recommend that wearers of my corsets not constrict more than 2-3 inches at the waist, and not wear them for more than 4-5 hours without loosening stays and resting. I also mention that I have adhesions and scar tissue in my rib cage front and back from prolonged overconstriction when I was younger. It’s important to use your best judgement about your own body, and to not over generalize.

    As a modern corsetière who create custom leather corsets under the label Wilde Hunt Corsetry (www.wildehunt.com), I really appreciate your article. My clients have included mothers, artists, business owners, computer programers, Iraq war veterans to name a few. And despite the large corset-wearing community that exists, I still get a lot of questions from the general public which I think are the result of these odd myths.

    Regardless, corset wearing is becoming increasingly popular and I think a lot of people will agree that there is nothing quite as timeless and striking as a woman in an elegantly made corset.

    Thanks for the corset-positive article!
    Larissa Boiwka

    Corset myths are much like any other medical myth. Such as “Women can’t drive at night because they can’t see in the dark.”I think we all know why these things are created and where they come from, mostly from an oppresive society trying to keep us in our place.
    The clergy were very opposed to ladies that were in their view “excessively corseted” I’m sure it did make a few of them rethink their vows.
    The myths are just as many for the other side too. That if a girl isn’t corseted her womb may wander causing all manner of ridiculous ailments. Laugh and learn I say, most of the elderly ladies I’ve spoken to say they loved how feminine and empowered they felt.Like “they were putting on their armor” This is what society had a problem with and I’ve got to say that’s how I feel when I wear mine.Feminine and bullet proof.

    the whale bone… it’s baleen, is it not? the heavy hairs used by filter feeding whales as a substitute for teeth.

    It is so refreshing to have a rational and reasoned explanation for the corset fashion of the 19th and early 20th centuries. I have studied extensively in the fashion museums of Europe and have rarely come across a corset with waist less than 24 inches [60 cm.] Those which are made with smaller waists clearly have not been worn at their tightest, because of the lack of stretch and pull on the eyelets and stitching. And many letters from young women say that they wore their corsets open by an inch or two – or three.

    I have been wearing a corset 23 hours in every day since 1999. In that sense I suppose I am a tight-lacer. My corset has been pressing on my figure for nearly 13 years and my waist has reduced from my original 30 inches to my present 20 inches. It was not the plan to achieve this measurement, but as the years have gone by I bought progressively smaller-waisted corsets made to measure and very comfortable. I experienced no pain or even discomfort at any time. Also my blood pressure, cholesterol, bone density, liver function, menstruation and hemoglobin are all perfectly normal. I am happy with this state of things and do not intend to reduce my waist any further. My husband is very happy with my figure and we take pleasure from the rituals of dressing me each morning and evening. I would never advise or recommend another woman to tight-lace as I do, because it must be her choice. But I can think of no reason to condemn it either.

    Thank you again for a very helpful article.

    I remember the “Merry Widow” in the fifties. I was still wearing it (only for dressy occasions) when I was a month or so pregnant, and my father said, “Don’t wear it if it’s uncomfortable.” Me: “Dad, it’s always uncomfortable!”

    Thank you for an article that helps debunk many corset myths. One note of clarification…the article states…”And they didn’t leave a lot room for pregnant women’s fetus-incubating bellies.” In the mid 19th century, patterns for gestational stays (corsets) were readily available. These included laced gussets on the front abdominal sections to allow for the expanding belly as well as adjustable bust gussets to allow for expansion there. Many also included modifications to allow for easier breastfeeding making them a very functional, practical, safe garment.

    I’ve written about this myself — though I took it much further in my 3-part series )

    Author Steele credibly dispels the myths surrounding corsets and health, but I would have appreciated some attribution to the doctors’ autopsy remarks about corsets and livers, particularly because it was in quotes. It sounded as if the remark was heard and repeated without confirmation thus compounding the very thing she sought to dispel, gullibility.

    What is in this article is correct. Most corsets were worn with at least a one inch gap. There was a French Corset made in the 1850’s that was light weight and had fewer stays. By the way it takes a really strong grip to construct and put together a corset.

    John, this article is a skim off the top of Steele’s book Corsets: A Cultural History, which delves deeper into autopsy reports and medical mosunderstanding with full bibliography. It’s also a fascinating book, I bought it thinking I’d use it now and then for costume research and read it cover to cover in two days.

    Also, to the person questioning whalebone, yes it is baleen, but the corset industry called it whalebone so we do as well.

    As a bioarchaeologist, I can say that corsets cause deformation of the spine and ribs. It’s not life-threatening, but it’s certainly evident in the skeletal record.

    I’m a corset-wearer myself for historical dress, so I’m certainly not anti-corset. I feel very sexy in the one I made, which is late 18th-c. style.

    There should be a medical point of view. Though I’m not a doctor, but a physiotherapy student and a corset lover, I feel I have to add something.
    Corset causes no damage if you wear it for a few hours a week.
    If you start wearing it for a longer time, your body will change little by little, the faster the more you wear your steel boned corset.
    Waist training corsets reduce your stomach capacity (good, you won’t feel hungry), but also your lungs one. It means it’s not healthy for those with breathing problems: if you have smoked for more than 5 years, and you still smoke more than 2 cigarettes a day, you have to avoid corsets for log periods. As smoke does, many illnesses can reduce blood oxigenation by increasing lungs thickness and alveoli number.
    As second, you should avoid wearing corsets for aesthetic reasons if you have menopause or ostheoporosis. Bones grow stronger when they’re under load, and as a corset provides compression but not load, your bones can lose their mineral part becoming frail and possibly causing you a lot of back pain. In menopause, this process occurs naturally with the hormon shift, and if you wear a corset for long too…you increase the damage.
    These are problems studied in medical corset use, but since the fashion corset is tighter and many times stronger, the damage is not just the same, but it’s worse.

    I don’t want anybody to stop wearing corsets, for god’s sake, I want to make and sell some! But I thin many girls go into a waist training self made program, without knowing if they can stand it. I just wish to help people avoiding pain ^^

    i have laced a lot of people into corsets, and sold more than a few of them. I also wore corsets for about 3 years every waking moment… as a back brace after a car accident!

    Corsets are supposed to have about 1-3 inches “open” at the lacing as their “spring” which allows for the flex and movement. if you can close the corset completely it is either too big, or you are lacing it too tightly. Therefore a woman’s 󈬂 inch waist” (measurements were often given as the CORSET measure) was anywhere from 19-21 inches…
    the larger you are the more space you may leave open…but you need at least a thumb width.

    if it is uncomfortable it does not fit! period. Either it is too large, too small, or the proportional length (bust to waist, or waist to hip) is incorrect.

    many people do wear ill fitting corsets, often because they have been told they are supposed to be uncomfortable…. just as many people wear poorly fitting shoes because they assume that they are “supposed to be” a certain size.

    How dare you presume to know what I know or don’t know about anything. This is lazy and offensive headlining of an otherwise OK article. Everything you know about your readers is false.

    It is very clear from buying vintage clothing and shoes that people in the western world are a lot larger now than they were in the 19th and early 20th century periods. Direct comparison of clothing sizes is not really possible.

    Re:Stacy’s comment, I think you will find in Steele’s work further discussion of the archaeological record, the spinal and other deformities in the record can’t be generally linked with corsets. Just because there were deformities doesn’t mean corsets caused them. Most people wore corsets the way we wear bras and Spanx, as shapers and supporters, not lacing them tightly in any way that would deform or move around anything internally. We can no longer imagine wearing such structured garments over so much of our torso that would affect movement and posture that way, but unless you insist that comfort must mean absolute freedom of movement, they aren’t necessarily uncomfortable (I’ve worn repros for theater and living history events). The whole point of this post is that they weren’t instruments of torture.

    I doubt any blanket statement on this page (and there are plenty!) lacks its exceptions. For one thing, all this talk of posture, but not word about the bustles that cause that appearance far more than any corset could ever do?

    For another, that somehow, tightening a corset around one’s torso leads to osteoporosis. A corset could certainly lend itself to some muscle weakness over time. And a poorly-fitted corset could do terrible damage to anyone who lacked the tough connective tissues to withstand it.

    But that has nothing to do with weight-bearing operations, unless one became so incredibly weak as to not be able to stand. Weight-bearing is merely the act of defying gravity by remaining upright – and no corset can prevent that! At least, not any more than a bra would cause a smoker to quit getting oxygen. If anything, smokers are exceptionally efficient at it – they pretty much have to be, or they’d choke like non-smokers do! (I can only wonder what country this physiotherapy school is in?)

    The 13-inch waist was carried in a photograph in medical texts as late as the early 1960’s. It was attributed to a whole range of supposed causes, corsets being only one of them. Anorexia was another, which turned up as eating disorders became the new complaint of the day. As was Marfan’s, which often causes people to be accused of eating disorders they don’t actually have due to their naturally slender build. I doubt we’ll ever know the exact cause in that case. That same book also gave the advice that we really should shampoo our hair every couple of weeks, if that gives any indication how drastically medical fashion also changes! And the lady’s picture gets trotted out again every few years to explain…something-or-other. That something seems to change every time it resurfaces.

    The idea that the uterus cause ‘female troubles’ by roaming about the body was carried in Grey’s Anatomy as late as 1939. This one harks back to Ancient Greece, iirc. But it gives us a pretty good birdseye view of the general state of modern medicine as it applied to women, well into the 20th century (and many will complain, still today!).

    Makes it just a little hard to take any broad pronouncements about underwear too seriously.

    Great article! I have worn corsets for different events and find them very comfortable, even when laced to drop my waist more than three inches.

    However, I need to comment on #2. We went to Strokestown Park House, Rosscommon, Ireland, on our honeymoon. Mary Pakenham-Mahon (the mother of the last occupant of the home, Olive) had her last rib removed in the late 1800’s specifically to get a smaller waist.

    I think this article, while mostly reasonable, overstates the ease of corsets. Laura Ingalls Wilder complained in one of her later “Little House” books that her corset would not allow her to draw a deep breath. She couldn’t stand to sleep in one, as her sister Mary did (Mary was considered extra-virtuous for this). How comfortable could it be to wear something that doesn’t allow you to fully breathe?

    Tight lacing was not just a feature of fetishist literature. The very well-researched book “Corsets and Crinolines,” by Norah Waugh, quotes an 1867 letter (p. 141 of the paperback edition) describing a fashionable London school, where it was the policy to reduce students’ waists by one inch per month until they met the headmistress’ standard. The writer claimed a 13-inch waist when she left the school at age 17, having supposedly dropped 10 inches during her time there. (She specifically mentions the circumference of her waist, not her corset’s measurement.) This was probably not typical behavior, but it indicates that tight lacing was not quite as unusual as stated in this article. The girls competed to see who could be the smallest–that certainly sounds plausible. (The correspondent does say that the girls didn’t suffer any ill-health from this practice–apart from headaches, loss of appetite, and fainting!)

    I disagree with the commenters who say that corsets were always meant to be worn wide open. I’m sure some people wore them this way, but most period pictures of corsets I have seen show them laced all the way closed, or not open much more than an inch, and an 1869 poem (p. 142, “C and C”) refers to the struggle: “‘Don’t lace me tighter, sister dear…’ ‘My dear, they’re not near closed.'”

    I’ve worn corsets myself, and I’m really glad I’m not expected to wear one every day.

    When viewing anything historical, you really have to take a step back and view it both with a ‘human’ lens and a contemporary one. I wear corsets frequently, both for reenactment purposes and because it does wonders for the pain I get from a spine condition called lordosis. I love them and the way I look in them, but I won’t pretend they don’t ever hurt. The wearing of corsets in the 19th century was exactly the same as the wearing of bras or shoes today. Basic humanity doesn’t change. Just as people today wear what they can find/afford, plenty of Victorian women would have worn ill-fitting, badly made corsets that pinched or hampered movement. Just as some people wander around in sneakers with the back mashed down and others wear extremely high heels, some Victorian women would have left a generous gap in the lacing and some would excessively waist train. Let’s not forget that Victorians were PEOPLE.

    Re. Christine’s post. The 1867 letter to which you allude forms part of a protracted and often highly fetishistic correspondence (“Conversazione”) not only on the subject tightlacing but also on more dubious topics such as crossdressing and flagellation. Published in the EDM (Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine) over a period of two years, it’s now thought that the editor, Samuel Beeton (husband of Mrs Beeton of cookery book fame) along with a number of other male fetishists, authored of most of the racier letters publishing them under, often female, pseudonyms. They therefore cannot be taken as evidence of a widespread practice of tightlacing.

    Though I gave up using corsets myself some time ago, I retain an interest as an erstwhile wearer and collector. I’d have to say that the smallest size period corset I’ve ever come across, which BTW I still own, is a 17″ Y & N corset from c. 1894. This corset has never been worn and is mounted on a contemporaneous form as a shop/exhibition display. It’s therefore more than likely a ‘one off’ manufactured specifically to promote the company’s wares, I guess much in the same way that today’s fashion houses put size zero dresses on impossibly thin models to sell to normal sized women such as you and I.

    I have a few nits and picks with the article, though it’s fine overall. I will say that Vivienne Westwood was herself a punk and rose to her current place in haute couture as a result of her contributions to punk fashion. Saying she seized on the punk look and placed it on the runways does her a grave disservice when she was one of the primary originators of that look.

    The point about women wearing them “voluntarily” is absurd. Women chose and choose to wear bras and heels and all types of ridiculous, beautiful, and uncomfortable things, but to say that because a few men protested the corset, all women wore them completely voluntarily …that’s disregarding completely the complicated social pressures that prompt or even require that desire in the first place.

    I’m a dress historian and I’m glad to see this article debunking some myths and foregrounding Valerie Steele’s research. BUT there is one misconception that you didn’t address – that corsets were worn directly over the skin. As they were non-washable, and the ridges of the ‘bones’ would press into the skin, they were always worn over one or more undergarments: originally a loose linen chemise (linen absorbed perspiration better than cotton), later fitted ‘combinations’ made from cotton or wool jersey. Camisoles and slips were worn on top to stop the corset showing through – and to add extra volume with ruffles over the bust. Eleri Lynn’s book is good on all these layers.

    Small edit needed under point 1:
    “Most people would reduce to a couple of inches.”
    should be:
    Most people would reduce _by_ a couple of inches.

    Small change, but big difference in meaning and supporting your article!
    Fixed, thanks!-Eds

    To everyone still screaming about the patriarchy, yes, impressing men sexually is ONE of the reasons women corseted, because it happens to make women look more extremely feminine. However women also wore and still wear impractical, difficult and confining garments in order to compete with other women in terms of class status.

    Corsets, unlike stays, were often difficult to get into, especially if you wanted them tight it was often best to have a ladies maid to dress you and tighten the laces while it was on. Ergo, a woman in a tight corset could afford a maid. A corset said “I don’t have to do much hard physical work, like housework” and the tighter it was, the louder the message came across. Same for hoops and crinolines, which positively scream, “I live in a big house with wide doorways”. Today a tight skirt and stillettos still sends the message “I don’t have to walk far or carry much”.

    For much of history the clothing of rich men was quite awkward too…high heels were originally for men, NOT women, and tight breeches with layers of brocaded vests and jackets are not great for free movement either. And, of course, the most damning evidence against “the patriarchy” being to blame for corsets is that men also wore corsets, mostly for a general slimming effect that let the fashionable clothing hang well, but from 1820 to 1834 a nipped in, wasp-waist was also fashionable for men.

    Wow, this is quite an interesting article and the comments are as interesting !
    I guess , one has to know that the female body was quite tiny ,up until the 20 th century,say, up to WW1. If you look at dresses , shoes, gloves and hats sizes of different periods and countries, women were tiny and petite , for an average height between 4󈧏” to 5𔃻″ -ish .

    We have to know that bourgeois girls were trained to wear corsets as early as age 12 so the body would be trained to the conditions the corset would dictate, and slowly. as the body grows,by the time they were adults , the bone structure and organs position were already shaped .
    Plus ,the reference texts and corsets we can admire from different periods were from wealthy women, and in general they would have a slimmer type of body because of a smaller muscular mass, and by consequent, smaller bone mass as well, since they did not have to work .then again,according to the period, the country, the social ranks, and all other sorts of reasons .

    Before the advent of the sewing machine,(around 1850s ) corsets were all made by hand and made to measure, so there would be no need of a gap at the lacing.
    Only with the industrialization ,some corset manufacturers started to offer already-made corsets, then, a larger gap would be needed in their product to accommodate different sizes in body,also introducing a lesser comfortable fit,( possibly opening doors to medical conditions that sadly contributed to the dark reputation of the corset),but this is just my assumption,based on a very few medical reports, I’m a corset maker so I know how important a good fit can be and how uncomfortable and dangerous a bad fitting corset is. ( A well made to measure corset doesn’t need an open gap at the back, this only happens when is it worn looser than when it was made) .
    Now, the “tiny waist” corsets often linked with the medical conditions was not always its main feature through time:some periods were rather featuring high bust or larger hips , high waist or straight front etc…. So the small waist crave only last a few decades at best.
    Non-working women- despite the fact that Bourgeois would have much unhealthier eating habits than the working class with greater quantity and much fatter food – wearing a corset would not allow a stomach to be filled past a certain amount,thus restraining the food intake , and then the body size. Wealthy women would have a slightly slimmer type of body then working ones because of a smaller muscular mass, and of course, smaller bone mass as well.
    As adult, most of the time, corsets were worn mostly to ‘support” the body position and organs and enhance femininity , more or less like our modern Spanx would do.
    In some occasions, it was laced tighter to enhance the figure like for a specific event,a ball, a dinner ,a wedding , while looking for a husband, or a drastic change of fashion.
    In general, corsets would not need to be laced tightly , just firmly because the body was already shaped and adapted to years of conditioning with them .
    Proof is: did you ever try to get out of a tightly laced corset by yourself, using the font busk opening?( that’s why it is there for ,right? , to take it off yourself, without the help of a maid)
    You will agree It is practically impossible , if it is tightly laced ,without bending the blades or some accidents!…
    Enjoy wearing your favorite corsets!

    My uncle, a WW2 bomber crewman and later pilot wore a corset most of his remaining life after several crash landings and a bailout. The main manufacturers of women’s corsetry here at the time also made medical corsets I think.

    Interesting article. I agree with a previous commenter that Victorians were human, and just like today, women have a tendency to push the envelope when it comes to fashion, In all likelihood, lacing up a little too tightly was probably pretty common. Growing up in the 80s, I remember how us girls would have to lay flat across a bed, take a deep breath in and sometimes even pull the zipper up with the prong of a fork just to get into our Jordache Jeans. Jeans back then weren’t made with the elastic stretch that they have today. Talk about restrictive clothing! And, yes, there were plenty of sources telling women how unhealthy tight fitting jeans were. But, we wore them as tight as we could get them. And we survived. :-)
    I recently made my very first historical costume and learned a lot in the process. Even though I made my costume from relatively light-weight fabrics, when I put it on in its entirety it is surprisingly heavy. Nothing like the weight distribution of clothes today. Considering the weight of fabric and the multiple layers and even the way clothes had to be constructed (no zippers, no elastic) its no wonder they needed the rigid foundation of a corset.
    I once read an article in an old women’s magazine from around the turn of the century that talked about a new way to dress infants. Apparently, up until that time infant’s clothing, at least around the torso, was made extremely tight-fitting because the thought was that babies were so fragile that if they were not bound up tightly in their clothing they would grow in some deformed way. I have read other accounts that lead me to believe that there was a general assumption among Victorians that the bodies of women and children needed restrictive clothing to *prevent* deformities. They were less convinced that restrictive clothing *caused* problems.

    In truth corsets were first used to hold up the fourteen pounds if clothing women would wear not to tighten the waist. it wasn’t until the mid 1800s that tight lacing was used, but only the aristocrats, street walkers, models and actresses would tight lace. for the everyday Victorian woman you could not be running around in a tight corset, you had to work. Corsets do however impact one’s health. they did tests and wearing a corset (even an inch tight) can speed up your heart rate, breath and make just walking across the room an arduous task. corsets can also cut into your skin. now, think about tight lacing. the invention of the hook and eye made it possible to reduce one’s waist to an unbelievable size. they have examples of lungs with indentations from the ribs. tight lacing is dangerous! and corsetting can be too.

    For the sake of posture enhancement, I am beginning to wear a corset, sometimes a girdle, regularly. I wear one that is not too tight, not too loose. I find it to be beneficial in its use as a brace .It is understandable that for the sake of vanity in some special situations, I might where an apparatus that is tighter that makes my appearance more ” put together ” and/ or flattering. I personally believe that, as with most scenarios, an amount of practical moderation is the key to achieving success. I applaud all of the previous comments as they are instructional and contain a broad scope of opinions on a pertinent question of health risks of the pursuit of beauty. The article itself is re!event to any and all avenues of sociology or fashion design.

    Just a note, Dr. Ines was a WOMAN, one of the first European female MDs ever. She still attributed all kinds of illnesses to conventional corsets, and designed her new supportive corset with hopes that women would stop compressing their waists…which didn’t work. This article is very well researched:
    https://thepragmaticcostumer.wordpress.com/?s=ines

    Look at the old Sears catalogs. They were selling corsets for pre-pubescent girls. And I have seen the measurements listed for the old dress patterns and the waists definitely were tiny. I used to have a beaded belt my grandfather made for my grandmother and wore it as a hat band. Her waist was 18 inches.

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