Germany’s Bayer, which bought Monsanto last year, issued a statement Saturday saying it would not accept “unethical behavior” as the French investigation was announced.
In an emailed statement, Bayer said it did not know which documents the allegations referred to.
“We stand for openness and a fair treatment of all interest groups. We do not accept any unethical behavior in our company,” Bayer said in a statement. “That applies obviously for the data privacy regulations in the respective countries as well.”
Monsanto has been accused of building up a file of about 200 names including journalists and lawmakers in the hope of influencing their positions on pesticides. The charge is that the information was collected illegally.
Paris police are to look into the possible “collection of personal information by fraudulent, unfair or illicit means.”
French newspaper Le Monde and one of its journalists complained that they were on the list drawn up since 2016 and allegedly leaked by US public relations firm FleishmanHillard.
The name of France’s former Environment Minister Segolene Royal is also said to be on the list. She told AFP it “says a lot about the methods of lobbyists… they carry out spying, infiltration, seek to influence, sometimes financially I imagine.”
PR firm FleishmanHillard said on Friday it would investigate the allegations.
Lawsuits over Monsanto’s Roundup
The US agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation Monsanto produces the broad-spectrum glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup. Now owner Bayer denies that Roundup causes cancer.
However, last August, a US jury found Bayer liable because Monsanto had not warned users of alleged cancer risks linked to Roundup.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new decision in April that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is made by Monsanto, does not cause cancer or other health problems if it is used according to instruction labels.
Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann is facing increased shareholder pressure over the litigation it inherited from Monsanto. It is the named defendant in US lawsuits concerning Roundup filed by 13,400 people.
Bayer shares have fallen about 40% since the $63 billion (€56 billion) Monsanto purchase was completed last June.
jm/ng (Reuters, AFP)
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