New details have emerged about the recently revealed dossier(s) Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, compiled to sway public opinion on herbicides. The dossier(s) included people from 7 European states and potentially beyond, according to a new report by RT.
Monsanto files reportedly listed prominent public figures who were opinionated on either side of the herbicide debate. The list included "stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, as well as regarding stakeholders related to EU institutions."
Bayer says it has hired a law firm for the purpose of trying to determine whether similar lists exist in other states.
Recall, about one week ago we reported that Bayer, which is being investigated by French prosecutors for compiling files of influential people such as journalists in France, likely did the same across Europe, suggesting a potentially wider problem.
French prosecutors said several weeks ago that they had opened an inquiry after newspaper Le Monde filed a complaint alleging that Monsanto - acquired by Bayer for $63 billion last year - had kept a file of 200 names, including journalists and lawmakers in hopes of influencing positions on pesticides. The list was said to be prepared by PR firm FleishmanHillard on behalf of Monsanto.
"[We have] decided with the agency to end the collaboration in the areas of communication and public affairs for the time being," Bayer said, referring to PR firm FleishmanHillard.
Bayer acknowledged the existence of the files and said it does not believe any laws were broken.
"It's safe to say that other countries in Europe were affected by lists ... I assume that all EU member states could potentially be affected," Matthias Berninger, Bayer's head of public affairs and sustainability, told journalists about a week ago.
"When you collect non-publicly available data about individuals a Rubicon is clearly crossed," regardless of whether data privacy laws were actually violated, he added.
Bayer said in its initial statement that it had "...no indication that the preparation of the lists under discussion violated any legal provisions."
The issue of the lists pales in comparison to the legal liability Bayer potentially faces after losing its third trial in a row over claims that its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. A jury recently awarded a total of $2 billion in punitive damages to a husband and wife over their Roundup-related cancer claims.