First modification: 07/28/2021 – 22:50
Members of the Monsanto archive are related to the opposition to the herbicide products of the company, now owned by the German multinational Bayer. According to a French regulator, which fined Monsanto some 400,000 euros, the company “illegally” stored private information and classified its members based on their ability to influence public opinion about the controversial use of glyphosate.
Public figures, journalists, scientists and environmental activists. The personal data of more than 200 people in total are contained in an “illegal” file of the American company Monsanto. The reason? The people in the file oppose the herbicide glyphosate because it is likely to influence public opinion about the use of this flagship product of the company, owned since 2018 by the German chemical giant Bayer.
For this reason, this Wednesday, July 28, the French personal data protection agency fined the Monsanto company 400,000 euros, about $ 473,000, for illegally collecting files of people who disagree on the use of its controversial pesticides. A case presented by seven affected plaintiffs before the National Commission for Informatics and Freedoms (CNIL).
The list was revealed by the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ and the French network France 2 in 2019, but it is now that the ruling of the lawsuit was announced. The news spread throughout the Old Continent, since Monsanto would have also set up similar lists in the European Union, with more than 1,400 people involved.
Among the data archived by Monstanto are people’s workplaces, their position and their landline and mobile phone numbers, email addresses, or social media. Added to a rating from 1 to 5 on the ability to influence public opinion and possible support for the company’s products.
The French regulatory body examined the claims of those affected and blamed the company for not having informed those who were investigated about the file. It explains that it did not comply with the obligation to inform, since the data in the file were “legally collected”, “people must be informed of its existence (of the file) so that they can exercise their rights, in particular their right to object”, the CNIL pointed out.
According to the CNIL, “the creation of contact files by representatives of interests for lobbying purposes is not, in itself, illegal. Instead, only people who can reasonably expect, due to their notoriety or their activity, to be contacted can appear. “.
Bayer questions its responsibility and the failure of the French regulator
For its part, the German group questioned the ruling and its “data processing responsibility.” The company also sent a statement to the press on Wednesday, claiming that the French body had “considerably reduced” the initial scope of its accusations against the firm and reiterating that its file was fully legal.
In a report published by Bayer, the US-based law firm Sidley Austin added that it had found no evidence of illegal surveillance activity around the watch lists.
Global debate on the use of glyphosate herbicides
The German multinational also maintains that scientific studies show that the main ingredient in its controversial herbicide Roundup, glyphosate, is safe. This after last May a United States judge rejected a millionaire agreement to resolve future cancer lawsuits related to its herbicide and in the midst of a controversial debate about the use of glyphosate that is taking place in several European countries.
The European Union is mired in a debate about glyphosate, a herbicide that could be carcinogenic, according to the detractors of its use and that is used in several countries around the world, such as its controversial use in Colombia, to eradicate coca crops. but whose effects affect the populations that surround these plantations.
In fact, countries like Mexico have banned spraying with this herbicide as of 2024, due to its adverse effects on health and the environment.
With local media and AFP