France To Probe Monsanto’s Attempt To List Influencers To Change Opinion

A preliminary investigation into the alleged illegally filed that had been put together on behalf of the US pesticides manufacturer Monsanto related to the views and pliability of high-profile figures and media outlets numbering into hundreds. Te investigation has been initiated by French authorities according to reports.

That Paris prosecutors office said that a complaint about the illegal files were made by the French daily Le Monde and one of its journalists whose names appear on the list, formed the basis for the initiation of the probe by the Paris judicial police.

It has also been reported that legal complaints over the alleged lists is being prepared to be filed by two anti-pesticide NGOs — Foodwatch and Generations Futures.

The probe would deal with and investigate into the possible “collection of personal information by fraudulent, unfair or illicit means”.

Files on the opinions of the targeted people and media bodies over the issue of the controversial weed killer glyphosate as well as on the genetically modified crops that are dealt with by the US giant Monsanto had allegedly been prepared by public relations agency Fleishman Hillard which was appointed by the US firm. It has been reported that the aim of the exercise was to also estimate whether the opinions of tho9se in the list could be influenced in any way in favor of te US company over the two issues.

Politicians, scientists, journalists — including four from AFP (Agence France-Presse) were par4t of the list prepared by the public relations firm. According to a report by the France 2 public television channel, the PR company amassed data and information on the views of the people and organizations on the list about pesticides and about Monsanto in addition other personal information such as their leisure pursuits, addresses and phone numbers. It is suspected hat the US company would have or have used the data to try and change any anti-Monsanto and anti weed killer pesticide view of the listed people and organizations.

According to reports, categories such as “priority targets” and “potential allies to recruit” were also created in the list to define the relative importance of the individuals and organizations and thereby decide on action to be taken.

The allegation “says a lot about the methods of lobbyists… they carry out spying, infiltration, seek to influence, sometimes financially I imagine”, said France’s former environment minister Segolene Royal, who is one among the list prepared allegedly for influencing opinions. He added that similar activities and practices are also likely to be indulged in by other companies as well.

In the United States in 2017 and 2018, Monsanto was alleged and criticized of not performing its duty of taking necessary steps to warn of the potential risks of Roundup – another weed killer manufactured by the company which contains the chemical glyphosate. A California court concluded that the weed killer was a reason or cancer in two of its users.

In the US alone, there have been more than 13,000 lawsuits related to the weed killer have been filed, informed the German pharmaceutical company Bayer which acquired Monsanto last year.

(Adapted from France24.com)

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