While the March Against Monsanto has demonstrated the strong backlash against the company in the United States, it’s even more pronounced in Europe, where nearly 20 countries recently banned Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops from being produced.
Now the company is working overtime to attack critics of its flagship weedkiller Roundup, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate dubbed a “probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
The product is used in over 750 incarnations by about 100 companies in 130 countries, but its future is at stake as government bodies including the European Parliament continue to debate its risks.
The company says the chemical has been proven safe due to government body approvals and multiple studies. Critics however point out that many of these studies rely on data from biased sources, as well as multiple scandals involving the company and potentially damning evidence.
Monsanto has already gone to great lengths to hide the truth in the United States, keeping a glyphosate-cancer link in lab animals secret for over 30 years according to unsealed documents and also allegedly conspiring with an EPA official to “kill” further studies on the chemical, according to leaked emails.
Could they be up to similar tactics in Europe with the reputation of its most important product at stake? The French daily newspaper La Monde has raised several red flags in its new investigation.
Monsanto’s “War on Science”
“To save glyphosate, the firm undertook to harm in any way the United Nations agency against cancer,” the report states as its intro.
Dubbed a “brutal multi-pronged assault” by the website GMWatch.org, Monsanto’s attacks against the IARC were detailed by journalists Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel.
“The severity, scale and duration of those attacks (were) unprecedented,” according to the IARC’s own director, GMWatch noted.
Monsanto has been known to work overtime to influence members of the media, and that appears to be what happened in this case: “Reuters ran an article containing damning accusations against the man who chaired the IARC’s glyphosate review,” the GMWatch summary noted.
However, the reporter who authored the piece, Kate Kelland, had been “spoon-fed selective and misleading material by Monsanto,” the article continues.
A supposed “scientist independent of Monsanto” that she relied on in the article was actually a paid consultant from the company, the article continued.
These types of misleading and biased media attack pieces are just one part of the media war Monsanto has been waging, the La Monde investigation stated.
IARC Director Lashes Out Against Monsanto
“This time we are the target of an orchestrated campaign of unseen scale and duration,” said the aforementioned IARC Director Christopher Wild.
The assault began after the organization published a report classifying glyphosate as genotoxic (DNA damaging), carcinogenic to animals, and a “probable carcinogen” for humans.
Monsanto’s business is practically built on the back of Roundup, including its selling of seeds that have been genetically engineered in laboratory to withstand large sprayings of the chemical (Roundup Ready GMO crops).
Among the tactics used by Monsanto and Monsanto-affiliate organizations are: the constant hounding of IARC scientists including “intimidating and noxious” requests to surrender all files related to their work on glyphosate, the reliance on “a squadron of propagandists” to squash dissent online, and much more. Several people posing as journalists have also engaged in “legal, bureaucratic, intrusive guerrilla warfare” against the IARC on behalf of the chemical industry since the organization’s glyphosate declaration.
The report also details Monsanto’s “Let Nothing Go” program, a confidential set of social media tactics that aims to silence dissent online by hiring “individuals who appear to have no connection tot he industry who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals, and GMOs.”
The tactics chronicled and allegations brought up by the La Monde investigation are detailed and thorough, and paint the picture of a company desperate to do everything in its power to bend or control the perception, and truth, about its products.