German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer has announced controversial US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto, which it bought last year, maintained lists of key pro- or anti-pesticide voices in at least seven European Union member states.
PR agency 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" on behalf of the company, Bayer said in a statement. The lists are primarily comprised of journalists, politicians and members of key interest groups.
The group promised transparency over the lists earlier in May, after it was revealed in France files on prominent backers and opponents of pesticides and genetically modified crops were compiled at Monsanto's behest. AFP has filed a complaint with French regulatory body Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertes because some of its journalists were listed.
Bayer is appealing the cases and stands by its position that regulatory authorities around the world consider glyphosate-based herbicides safe when used as directed.
History of Infiltration
In a sense, Monsanto's surveillance of pro- and anti-pesticide campaigners isn't particularly surprising. In 2010, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill revealed Monsanto had employed Total Intelligence, a shell company created by highly controversial private mercenary firm Blackwater, to to collect intelligence on activists rallying against GMO crops and other Monsanto activities, among other services.