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MONSANTO

French police to probe alleged Monsanto lists on opinion-makers

France has opened a preliminary enquiry into allegations that US pesticides maker Monsanto had information illegally collected on the views and pliability of hundreds of high-profile figures and media outlets.

French police to probe alleged Monsanto lists on opinion-makers
Activists from the 'Attac' protest group scale the offices of Bayer -which recently acquired Monsanto- in La Garenne Colombes near the financial district of La Defence on the outskirts of Paris. Photo
Paris judicial police will carry out the probe following a complaint by the daily Le Monde and one of its journalists, whose names appear on the list, the Paris prosecutor's office said.
 
Two anti-pesticide NGOs — Foodwatch and Generations Futures — are also preparing to lodge legal complaints over the alleged lists.
 
The investigators will look into the possible “collection of personal information by fraudulent, unfair or illicit means”.
   
US giant Monsanto allegedly had public relations agency FleishmanHillard draw up the files on the opinions of the targeted people and media bodies on the controversial weedkiller glyphosate and on genetically modified crops as 
well as their propensity to be influenced in their opinions.
 
 
Figuring on the list are politicians, scientists and journalists — including four from AFP (Agence France-Presse). Information was collected on their views on pesticides and on Monsanto as well as their leisure pursuits, addresses and phone numbers, according to the France 2 public television channel.
   
Some of the names were listed under categories such as “priority targets” and “potential allies to recruit”, according to reports.
   
France's former environment minister Segolene Royal, whose name was said to appear on the lists, said the allegation “says a lot about the methods of lobbyists… they carry out spying, infiltration, seek to influence, sometimes financially I imagine”, adding that other companies are likely to indulge in similar practices.
   
A spokesman for FleishmanHillard told AFP: “FleishmanHillard and our staff are committed to compliance with applicable laws and we are committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct. 
   
“We continue to take that responsibility very seriously and will carefully examine the questions raised by certain media outlets about the lists of stakeholders that included publicly available information.”
   
Glyphosate developer Monsanto was convicted in the United States in 2018 and 2019 of not taking necessary steps to warn of the potential risks of Roundup — their weedkiller containing the chemical, which two California juries found caused cancer in two users.
   
German pharmaceutical firm Bayer, which bought Monsanto last year, announced last month that over 13,000 lawsuits related to the weedkiller have been launched in the US. 

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MONSANTO

France bans sale of Monsanto weedkiller

French Ecology Minister Segolène Royal announced on Sunday a ban on the sale of popular weedkiller Roundup from garden centres, which the UN has warned may be carcinogenic.

France bans sale of Monsanto weedkiller
Photo: Anti-Monsanto groups protest in France. Photo: AFP

The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was classified in March as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the UN's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The weedkiller — used by amateur gardeners as well as farmers — is the star product of American biotechnology giant Monsanto.

“France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” Royal said on French television.

“I have asked garden centres to stop putting Monsanto's Roundup on sale in self-service aisles,” she went on to say.

Her announcement comes after French consumer association CLCV asked French and European officials to stop selling glyphosate-based products to amateur gardeners.

Glyphosate — introduced in the 1970s under the brand Roundup but now manufactured generically — is the most-produced weedkiller in the world, according to the IARC.

The agency's evaluation of glyphosate saw “limited evidence” of a type of cancer called non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as seen in studies in the United States, Sweden and Canada conducted among farm workers since 2001.

The US agribusiness giant Monsanto strongly contested the IARC classification, saying “relevant, scientific data was excluded from review”.

Royal also announced last week that from January 2018 phytosanitary products — used to control plant diseases — would only be available to amateur gardeners “through an intermediary or a certified vendor”.

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