Bayer Reveals Monsanto Had ‘Watch Lists’ of GMO Opponents in 7 EU Countries
Bayer has inherited a large number of lawsuits with its 63-billion-dollar takeover of US company Monsanto.
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer has revealed that Monsanto, the controversial US producer of pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that it bought last year, had kept “watch lists” of its opponents in key EU member states and in EU institutions.
Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto in 2018 was one of the largest in German corporate history, valued at USD 63 billion.
However, as part of the controversies surrounding Monsanto’s pesticides and GMOs, the combined group now faces more than 13,000 lawsuits alleging Monsanto’s products such as weedkiller Roundup, had caused illnesses, most notably cancer.
Three juries have so far ordered Monsanto to pay sufferers massive fines, with the latest award for USD 2 billion to a couple in California.
Bayer is appealing the cases, arguing that “regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides as safe when used as directed” – referring to the main ingredient in Roundup.
On Tuesday, Bayer revealed that US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto kept lists of key pro- or anti-pesticides figures in at least seven EU countries as well as in EU institutions.
The lists were compiled for Monsanto by PR agency FleishmanHillard, AFP and France24 reported.
“[FleishmanHillard] drew up lists of stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and United Kingdom, as well as regarding stakeholders related to EU institutions,” Bayer said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Bayer promised transparency over the lists after a French television channel revealed the existence in France of files on prominent backers and opponents of pesticides and genetically modified crops.
“The lists primarily include journalists, politicians and other interest groups,” Bayer said.
The Leverkusen-based group also said it had hired law firm Sidley Austin to investigate the lists, and to figure out if other countries were also targeted in a similar fashion.
Its lawyers will also contact the individuals named to inform them what data FleishmanHillard collected on them, starting “no later than” May 31.
“[We have] decided with the agency to end the collaboration in the areas of communication and public affairs for the time being,” the German corporation said with respect to the FleishmanHillard.
AFP says it has filed a complaint with a French regulatory body, the Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertes, because some of its journalists were on Monsanto’s watch list.
(Banner image: Bayer)