Monsanto®'s dozens of Superfund sites ( large contaminated sites of high priority for the us Environmental Protection Agency ) across the United States alone are affecting hundreds of communities and their environment with terrifying health and ecological consequences. Monsanto® maintains strong ties with the us government, and especially with the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration). It is a bedfellow with many other economical and political power houses around the world. The company engages in campaigns of misinformation, the persecution of institutions and individuals, including scientists, farmers and activists that dare to disclose its crimes. Monsanto® is spreading new technologies and products, while scientists, ecological institutions and human rights organizations are putting out alerts about issues like public health, food safety and ecological sustainability issues on which our future on this planet depends. This is all particularly troublesome since Monsanto® is entering a new chapter of disregard for our planet through the creation and commercialization of gmos. Looking at the company’s past and present, this project aims to picture what Monsanto® ’s near future will look like.
For Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, the Franco- Venezuelan photographer Mathieu Asselin was awarded the Aperture Foundation First Book Award in 2017, the Dummy Book Award Kassel 2016, and a special mention for the Luma Rencontres Dummy Book Award 2016 at the Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles), his book is shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation 2018. Beyond the distinguished editorial object, this recognition enshrines an exceptional documentary process conducted for five years through Vietnam and the United States, which portrays an overwhelming portrait of the ancient and current practices of this giant chemical industry.
In order to construct his meticulous investigation, Mathieu Asselin exhumed and consulted hundreds of documents - press excerpts, judgments, archives, films, and testimonies - focusing on facts or dates that dramatically illustrate the ravages of all kinds which mark the company's long history of sprawling development. Thus, the drama of the small town of Aniston (Alabama, 1970), that became a ghost city as a result of releases into the air and water of the infamous and poisonous chlorinated PCB derivatives produced by the local factory. Thus, the terrifying Agent Orange - another Monsanto product - an acid-based herbicide and defoliant which the US military will detonate on the plains of Vietnam from 1968 to 1971, permanently contaminating up to ten percent of its territory and causing thousands of victims.
The book also methodically illuminates another facet of Monsanto's processes to establish its global grip: propaganda and communication. Whether they are advertisements describing an ideal world where chemistry and its derivatives contribute to universal well-being, or subjugating contracts signed by thousands of farmers condemning them to an unfair economic model and ecological nuisance, each document published by Monsanto can be analyzed as an exercise in disinformation. Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation is intended to pay tribute to the hundreds of associations, to the thousands of famous or anonymous individuals, "to the NGO's who oppose with tenacity and at their own risk the perils of the Monsanto lobby”.