PARIS — Monsanto, the multinational producer of pesticides and genetically-engineered crops, has sought to discredit virtually anything that stands in the way of its business, reports leading French daily Le Monde in a multi-part investigative series that began Thursday.
Among the targets of the U.S.-based agro-chemical giant are scientists, regulators and even the World Health Organization, according to the investigation based on the "Monsanto Papers," a batch of internal documents released by a U.S. federal court more than two months ago.
Back in March, The New York Times published an article reporting on the documents as evidence that Monsanto was very much aware of the noxiousness of glyphosate, the main ingredient in one of its top products, Roundup. But the story published Thursday by Le Monde reporters Stéphane Foucart and Stéphane Horel goes beyond that. It shows with extensive detail how the company has systematically been trying to discredit, intimidate and silence any organization determined to blow the whistle, including the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Le Monde depicts the various methods that one of the world's biggest corporations is willing to use to keep the lid on uncomfortable information: extensive use of legal filings, massive lobbying campaigns, and even fake journalists (whom Le Monde describes as "characters who could almost be from a John Le Carré novel") to try and dig up dirt to intimidate its opponents. It's been, to quote the French daily, "a judicial, bureaucratic, intrusive guerrilla warfare."
One particularly intriguing part of the investigation deals with the possible connections between Monsanto and other actors of the chemical industry on the one hand, and U.S. President Donald Trump on the other. These connections include — but are not limited to — David Schnare, an outspoken climate-change denier who was part of Trump's transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency. They also include Nancy Beck, from the American Chemistry Council, who was recently appointed to be the EPA's Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
With more to come in the subsequent installments, the allegations Thursday already some seriously toxic questions about whether the financial interests of a few still count more than the well-being of the many.