Monsanto is accused of hiring “third parties” to aggressively refute negative comments about the company, its blockbuster herbicide Roundup, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plaintiffs suing the company allege.
According to court records released April 24, including a plaintiffs’ reply in support of a motion to strike confidentiality of a deposition given by a Monsanto scientist, the agrochemical giant “started the aptly-named ‘Let Nothing Go’ program to leave nothing, not even facebook comments, unanswered.”
The agrochemical and biotech manufacturer of Roundup herbicide and Roundup-resistant GMO seeds is facing a mounting number of lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who allege exposure to Roundup caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. The company faces about 50 lawsuits, most of which were filed by California farmers, farmworkers, and their families.
“Through a series of third parties, it employs individuals who appear to have no connection to the industry, who in turn post positive comments on news articles and Facebook posts, defending Monsanto, its chemicals, and GMOs,” the documents claim.
The strategy of employing internet trolls to prop up Monsanto’s image and defend its mission seems to fit with other accusations that plaintiffs have voiced previously.
The California lawsuit alleges that Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed Roundup’s dangers in its efforts to “prove” the chemical’s safety. The same complaint also accuses company officials of ghostwriting ostensibly “independent” studies and staging a prolonged campaign of misinformation to persuade consumers and government agencies alike that Roundup is safe.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the case, said Monsanto’s internal records “Expose a culture corrupt enough to shock the company’s most jaded critics.”
“Those papers show sociopathic company officials ghostwriting scientific studies to conceal Roundup’s risks from Monsanto’s regulators and customers, including food consumers, farmers and the public,” Mr. Kennedy said. “One wonders about the perverse morality that incentivizes executives to lie so easily and to put profits before human life.”
The World Health Organization’s International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified Roundup as a probable human carcinogen in 2015, pointing to a series of North American and European studies linking the chemical to populations with abnormally high cancer rates.