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Monsanto accused in court of conducting an army of shills to crackdown on negative online comments

Published: April 30, 2017
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Source: Leak of Nations

In a San Francisco federal court case, the plaintiff accused GMO giants Monsanto of hiring third-parties who hide their association with the company to respond to negative online comments, also known as ‘shills’.

The case challenges Monsanto’s corrupt relationship with members of the Environmental Protection Agency and their attempts to manipulate scientific publications and crack down on online dissent. Monsanto’s ‘Let Nothing Go’ campaign allegedly hired online ‘shills’ to quickly respond to social media chatter about the carcinogenic properties of their ‘RoundUp’ product.

The plaintiff claims to have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of exposure to glyphosate in Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’ product, and believes that Monsanto aggressively attempted to remove all warnings of the risks surrounding the pesticide.

See below the accusation recorded in a United States District Court litigation summary:

Monsanto have gained such a bad reputation for online shills that it has become common practice on the news aggregation site Reddit to write ‘Monsant0’ when discussing the company in a bad light so that it is not indexed on a search engine.

The company are also accused of pressuring scientific publications to downplay the risks of their products. In an email chain used as evidence in court (acquired via Mass Tort Nexus), a company executive instructed his staff to ‘ghost write’ articles, planning to have independent scientists “just sign their names” to the study.

“Monsanto tells us that Roundup is safe because scientists say it is safe.  But apparently scientists sign their names, while Monsanto signs the checks,” says Kara Cook-Schultz, Toxics Director at U.S. PIRG. “This calls into question multiple studies written, or possibly ghostwritten, by agricultural scientists.”

Also included in the email chain is evidence showing that Monsanto regularly works together with other international chemical companies—such as Syngenta and Dow—to publish scientific papers. Christophe Gustin, Monsanto’s Crop Protection Regulatory Affairs Lead at Monsanto Europe, asked for Syngenta and Dow’s sign-off prior to hiring a scientist to publish the results of internal, unpublished studies on Roundup.

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