According to the French paper, Le Monde, “Monsanto in 2016 kept secret scores on more than 200 politicians, journalists and agricultural leaders.”1 And on Friday, a Paris prosecutor opened a preliminary inquiry into the file (whose existence was first reported by Le Monde and the TV channel France2).
It remains to be seen what will come of the inquiry but we do know that the following names were present on slides shown by Monsanto: Dr. Joseph Mercola, Jeffrey Smith, Vandana Shiva, and one other person very close to us that we will not name.
Bayer had the following to say about the information discovered by Le Monde/France2:
“At the end of this week, French media raised accusations that lists of supportive and critical stakeholders drawn up by Monsanto in 2016 may have violated ethical principles and legal regulations.
Following an initial review, we understand that this initiative has raised concerns and criticism. This is not the way Bayer seeks dialogue with society and stakeholders. We apologize for this behavior.
Currently, we have no indication that the preparation of the lists under discussion violated any legal provisions. Bayer will ask an external law firm to investigate the project Monsanto commissioned and evaluate the allegations. The law firm will also inform all of the persons on the lists of the information collected about them. Bayer will fully support the public prosecutor’s office in France in its investigations.
Matthias Berninger, our new Head of Public Affairs and Sustainability, has been tasked with evaluating this issue internally. He will also assess the behavior of the involved internal and external parties. Our highest priority is to create transparency. As an immediate measure, we have decided to suspend our cooperation with the involved external service providers for the time being. The responsible Monsanto manager left the company shortly after the acquisition. We are also currently investigating further appropriate consequences both internally and with regard to external parties.
Bayer stands for openness and fair dealings with all interest groups. We do not tolerate unethical behavior in our company. Of course, this also applies to data protection regulations in all jurisdictions in which we operate.”2
As you might imagine, we will update you when we have more information. Please stay tuned.