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Toxicity in the air?
Toxicity in the air?

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 Mondein 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.

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Economy

Europe's Winter Energy Crisis Has Already Begun

in the face of Russia's stranglehold over supplies, the European Commission has proposed support packages and price caps. But across Europe, fears about the cost of living are spreading – and with it, doubts about support for Ukraine.

Protesters on Thursday in the German state of Thuringia carried Russian flags and signs: 'First our country! Life must be affordable.'

Martin Schutt/dpa via ZUMA
Stefanie Bolzen, Philipp Fritz, Virginia Kirst, Martina Meister, Mandoline Rutkowski, Stefan Schocher, Claus, Christian Malzahn and Nikolaus Doll

-Analysis-

In her State of the Union address on September 14, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, issued an urgent appeal for solidarity between EU member states in tackling the energy crisis, and towards Ukraine. Von der Leyen need only look out her window to see that tensions are growing in capital cities across Europe due to the sharp rise in energy prices.

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In the Czech Republic, people are already taking to the streets, while opposition politicians elsewhere are looking to score points — and some countries' support for Ukraine may start to buckle.

With winter approaching, Europe is facing a true test of both its mettle, and imagination.

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