Commodification as Corporate Strategy: Monsanto and the Remaking of American Farming


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines how large corporations transform non-economic goods into goods that can be bought and sold. Its focus is Monsanto, the technologically innovative but controversial firm that played a central role in the commodification of plant DNA. Despite Monsanto’s enormous significance to modern agriculture, it has not been the object of sustained historical or organizational analysis. This dissertation, responding to this surprising dearth of scholarship, is based on extensive research in the Monsanto archives and oral history interviews with the key managers, scientists, and executives of the company. Drawing from these resources, it details the organizational changes and strategic decisions which led Monsanto to pursue a commodification-based strategy, and thereby trigger a global protest movement.