By Aaron Kesel
Monsanto (Bayer) operated an intelligence-gathering “fusion center,” to discredit journalists and activists, including singer Neil Young, and paid Google to bury results in its search engine, The Guardian, reported.
Activist Post previously reported that Bayer/Monsanto — the formerly merged company of potentially two of the evilest businesses in history — had kept a file of 200 names, including journalists and lawmakers in hopes of influencing their positions on pesticides according to French prosecutors.
Now, The Guardian has an exposé on Monsanto going a step beyond by spying on journalists through use of a Fusion Center type operation and paying Google to hide negative results.
The Guardian reports:
The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism.
The documents, originating from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of one of numerous ongoing court battles on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller.
According to The Guardian report, Monsanto also paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Further, Monsanto PR staff internally talked about putting pressure on the Reuters news agency, stating they should “continue to push back on [Gillam’s] editors very strongly every chance we get,” and were hoping “she gets reassigned.”
As this author reported for Activate Now, Bayer/Monsanto was recently faced with a jury concluding that its Roundup product causes cancer. The finding was according to a second U.S. jury who ruled its Roundup weed killer was a carcinogenic substance that caused plaintiff Edwin Hardeman’s disease.
Another California man, Dewayne Lee Johnson, was awarded $289 million in August last year after a state jury found Roundup caused his own cancer. That award was later reduced to $78 million and is on appeal by Bayer.
Monsanto recently lost its third legal battle over its massively popular Roundup herbicide, facing a fine of $2.055 billion by a jury in San Francisco who ordered the chemical giant to pay Alva and Alberta Pilliod of Livermore, California, who said it caused their non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The $2 billion in punitive damages and $55 million in compensatory is certain to be reduced by the trial judge or on appeal as David Levine, University of California, Hastings School of Law professor told the Associated Press, “There is zero chance it will stand.”
The Pilliods said they used Roundup once a week for nine months of the year for more than three decades before being diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and 2015, according to BuzzFeed News.
“We wish that Monsanto had warned us ahead of time of the dangers of using Monsanto and that there was something in the front of their label that said ‘Danger, may cause cancer,'” Alberta Pilliod said at the press conference. “It’s changed our lives forever. We can’t do the things that we used to be able to do, and we really resent Monsanto for that fact.”
Christopher Loder, a spokesman for Monsanto declined to comment on the existence of a fusion center, but said in a statement to The Guardian that the records show
…that Monsanto’s activities were intended to ensure there was a fair, accurate and science-based dialogue about the company and its products in response to significant misinformation, including steps to respond to the publication of a book written by an individual who is a frequent critic of pesticides and GMOs.
Loder added the documents were “cherry-picked by plaintiffs’ lawyers and their surrogates” and that the files did not contradict existing science supporting the continued use of glyphosate, “We take the safety of our products and our reputation very seriously and work to ensure that everyone … has accurate and balanced information.”
You know what the documents do show Loder? They illustrate that Monsanto was operating not as a corporation but as its own private intelligence service going after anyone who dared to criticize or challenge that its products caused health problems.
Activist Post has reported previously that Monsanto had Blackwater set up as its “Intel arm” by Cofer Black, the former head of the CIA’s counter-terrorism center. In 2008 Black traveled to Zürich to meet Kevin Wilson, a security manager for global issues at Monsanto. Black worked as the chairman for the Total Intelligence Consulting Company at the time, which was owned by Blackwater. During this meeting with Wilson, Black proposed to make Total Intelligence the “intel arm” of Monsanto.
Monsanto then hired Total Intelligence Solutions from 2008-09 under the agreement, contracting the firm to “infiltrate animal rights activist groups by having employees become legal members.” It also promised to monitor activists’ blogs and websites on Monsanto’s behalf.
As such it’s very interesting to know that Monsanto continued its intel operations after 2009, all the way up to at least 2017. Although it is unknown if Blackwater’s Total Intelligence was still involved in the monitoring operations.
Further, as a reminder to the reader, it is important to note: Monsanto is documented to have paid off Sir Richard Doll, a renowned cancer researcher, for 20 years. Doll received a consultancy fee of $1,500 a day in the mid-1980s for his research on Monsanto’s Agent Orange, finding the chemical didn’t cause cancer.
The Guardian also previously reported that Monsanto employed a number of corrupt tactics including ghostwriting studies (paying off researchers), interfering with regulatory agencies, refusing to conduct long-term safety studies all while spending millions of dollars on secretive PR campaigns to attack scientists and critics.
“Monsanto was its own ghostwriter for some safety reviews,” Bloomberg reported, and an EPA official reportedly helped Monsanto “kill” another agency’s cancer study. An award-winning investigation in Le Monde details Monsanto’s effort “to destroy the United Nations’ cancer agency by any means possible” to save glyphosate.
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While Monsanto always insisted “glyphosate has a long history of safe use,” a study by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” back in 2015.
One year later, another organization, PAN, the Pesticide Action Network International, issued a 96-page report stating that glyphosate contaminates the Global Ecosystem. That same year the FDA suspended testing for glyphosate residues in food. Those foods, according to a subsequent report by Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project, included many of America’s most popular foods including – cookies, crackers, popular cold cereals, and chips. The chemical was also found in several wines including organic wines, baby food and formula, breast milk and even tampons.
Glyphosate is also sprayed directly on many types of conventional crops before harvest, including wheat, oats, and barley. In all, glyphosate is used in some fashion in the production of at least 70 food crops, according to the EPA, including a range of fruits, nuts, and veggies.
Glyphosate was also listed as a carcinogen on California EPA’s Prop 65 list in July of 2017, while a study published in January of 2017 proved that chronic consumption of low levels of Roundup (which contains glyphosate) caused fatty liver disease in animals.
Meanwhile, in another study scientists have found that exposing rats to ultra-low doses of Roundup caused liver and kidney damage.
Another study done by the WHO and UN experts at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) conflicted the IARC report and found that “glyphosate did not cause cancer and pose a risk to humans.”
An additional report earlier this year by the European Chemical Agency agreed with the FAO study stating that glyphosate was “safe.”
Monsanto now (Bayer) has an obvious conflicting record on whether or not its glyphosate chemical is safe or not.
One may wonder why they chose to go with Bayer instead of Monsanto, as Bayer also has a nasty history. No one is forgetting anytime soon that Bayer sold tainted hemophiliac medicine which caused users to contract AIDS, sorry PR reps.
Bill Maher runs down both evil companies’ so-called “achievements” in the video below, which includes “giving heroin to children as medicine, creating Zyklon B, PCBs, Aspartame, DDT, Agent Orange and of course Roundup!”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bayer’s Roundup product isn’t the only product that causes problems; another commodity called Dicamba has also faced a backlash.
Dicamba has been under fire by farmers for causing widespread damage to their crops that are not GMOs designed to resist the chemical. Dicamba was even banned in Arkansas by the Plant Board, which Monsanto disputed and sued the group for acting outside its authority in prohibiting its herbicide’s use and failing to consider research Monsanto had submitted to federal regulators.
Dicamba is considered more toxic than glyphosate, but less toxic than 2,4-D, the third most common broadleaf herbicide. (Monsanto is working on crops that are resistant to 2,4-D, as well.) Yet, when used properly, dicamba is considered only mildly toxic to people, pollinators, wildlife, and aquatic organisms. There is no scientific consensus on whether it has cancer-causing properties, though the EPA says “Dicamba is not likely to be a human carcinogen.”
Then there is Monsanto’s product it canceled launching, called NemaStrike, which is designed to be applied to crop seeds to protect them from worms and other bugs. The launch was halted after reports indicated that it caused strange rashes on people who came into contact with the chemical.
There are now three cases against Bayer found to be guilty for causing cancer; a pending estimated 11,200 Roundup lawsuits by farmers, home gardeners, and landscapers; and a total of 13,000 plaintiffs claiming its glyphosate-based herbicides cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers. There are also six more trials due to start this year alone in federal and state courts in the U.S. Bayer is going to have a busy time with litigation, especially since this piles on top of a flood of lawsuits over waterways contaminated with PCBs (chemical compounds used in transformers, paints, sealants), and fresh cases emerging over Dicamba.
According to U.S. Right To Know’s Monsanto Trial Tracker, which is run by Carey Gillam the next trial (Gordon v. Monsanto) is fixed for August which will be against Sharlean Gordon, a cancer-stricken woman in her 50s, currently set for trial in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Aug. 19th. However, a news update on August 7th stated the trial in St. Louis may be delayed pending a potential settlement.
Because of these lawsuits, Monsanto is having its dirty laundry aired out exposing the tactics Monsanto used to deny cancer risk and protect its prized chemical Roundup.
Citizens are growing increasingly aware that companies like Bayer/Monsanto are bad for their health and the environment. It’s heartbreaking to see a chemical company involved with the poisoning of U.S. families still poisoning people decades later.
What’s more worrying is that Monsanto ordered Blackwater to harass private citizens, paid off researchers and has had a revolving door in the U.S. for policy. All of this truly shows the extent of the stain of corruption that Monsanto has manufactured and been allowed to continue.
Now we have evidence Monsanto paid off Google, scientists, academics and more. That’s not all, we have undeniable proof that Monsanto threatened its critics, and may have broken privacy laws by spying on journalists, and activists alike.
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