Bayer Says Monsanto Stakeholder Lists Lawful
Amid the swirling controversy over lists former US agrochemicals giant Monsanto kept on journalists and industry stakeholders, new owner Bayer has said the investigation it commissioned through US law firm Sidley Austin showed that no sensitive information was tracked.
The 2.4 million documents examined in the course of the investigation, documented on the internet at www.bayer.com/stakeholder-lists, included the names of nearly 1,500 individuals in several European countries.
According to Bayer, the lists were created in late 2016 and 2017 by the US public relations agency FleishmanHillard on behalf of Monsanto and pertained to the EU’s 2017 re-registration process for glyphosate, the active ingredient in the US group’s controversial Roundup herbicide.
The largest number of the names on the Monsanto list was collected in France, which opposed the re-registration of glyphosate.
Bayer is currently struggling with more than 18,000 claims from Roundup users who blame the herbicide for their non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The German group commissioned the investigation in May this year to clarify allegations from individuals, originating in the French press, that their confidential or private data had been breached.
“The completion and publication of the investigation is another important step toward creating transparency,” said Matthias Berninger, head of public affairs and sustainability at Bayer.
Berninger said there was “no evidence that the lists were based on illegal surveillance of individuals, as claimed by the media”. He said the content of the lists made available to the law firm stemmed mainly from publicly available information such as press articles or social media accounts.
Based on the final report, Bayer said it does not see any violations of the law by employees or breaches of Monsanto's internal policies in effect at the time.
The German Council for Public Relations (DRPR) separately conducted an investigation of the German stakeholder lists and also found no wrongdoing.