According to newly discovered documents, Monsanto has been running a “fusion center” to observe journalists and activists and damage their reputations. The fusion center also focused on a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company and the harm its product is causing. Singer-songwriter Neil Young was also investigated by Monsanto; the agrochemical corporation wrote an internal memo on his music and his actions on social media.
Monsanto’s cover up attempts
The documents revealed Monsanto’s multifaceted plan to target a Reuters journalist, Carey Gillam, who investigated Monsanto’s infamous weedkiller, Roundup, and the product’s relations to cancer.
Monsanto – owned by Bayer – also used their “intelligence fusion center” to track the movements of a not-for-profit food research organization. “Intelligence fusion center” is a term used by agencies such as the FBI in association with surveillance and terrorism operations.
The revealed documents – primarily from 2015 to 2017 – were divulged as part of continuous court proceedings focusing on the health risks caused by Roundup.
The documents show that Monsanto prepared a number of “actions” to target a book written by Gillam before it was released. Some of the actions involved creating “talking points” for “third parties” to condemn the book, as well as suggestions on how “industry and farmer customers” can post negative reviews.
Monsanto also paid Google to boost search results on “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” which berated her work. Monsanto’s public relations staff also talked of putting continuous pressure on Reuters, saying they “continue to push back on [Gillam’s] editors very strongly every chance we get”, and they were anticipating that Gillam would be reassigned.
“I’ve always known that Monsanto didn’t like my work, and worked to pressure editors and silence me,” said Gillam in an interview. “But I never imagined a multi-billion dollar company would actually spend so much time and energy and personnel on me. It’s astonishing.”