In what Democracy Now!1 refers to as an "explosive report" by The Guardian,2 documents obtained during the discovery process of lawsuits against Monsanto reveal the company has been engaged in a coordinated campaign to discredit critics of the company.
Among them are journalist Carey Gillam, the nonprofit U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) and singer-songwriter Neil Young, whose 2015 album, "The Monsanto Years," was an artistic critique of the company.
"The records … show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company's weedkiller and its links to cancer," The Guardian writes.3
"Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its 'intelligence fusion center,' a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism.
The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company's Roundup weedkiller."
Monsanto records show organized plan to silence journalist
According to The Guardian,4 the records obtained reveal how Monsanto planned to discredit Gillam's book, "White Wash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science,"5 ahead of its release in 2017 by instructing "industry and farmer customers" to post negative reviews and paying Google to promote search results critical of Gillam and her work.
In all, the attack on Gillam's book, dubbed "Project Spruce,"6 (an internal code name for Monsanto's defense directive to protect the company against all perceived threats to its business7) had more than 20 activity points, including the engagement of regulatory authorities and providing "pro-science third parties" with talking points.
Gillam told The Guardian the documents are "just one more example of how the company works behind the scenes to try to manipulate what the public knows about its products and practices."
According to The Guardian, staff at Monsanto's PR firm also appear to have pressured Reuters to prevent Gillam from reporting on Monsanto and its products, saying they "continue to push back on [Gillam's] editors very strongly every chance we get."
In an August 9, 2019, article in The Guardian, Gillam is more forthcoming with her sentiments, stating that:8
"As a journalist who has covered corporate America for more than 30 years, very little shocks me about the propaganda tactics companies often deploy. I know the pressure companies can and do bring to bear when trying to effect positive coverage and limit reporting they deem negative about their business practices and products.
But when I recently received close to 50 pages of internal Monsanto communications about the company's plans to target me and my reputation, I was shocked … I never dreamed I would warrant my own Monsanto action plan …