Note: post has been updated to correct spelling of Monsanto. Mea culpa.

A lot–probably a majority–of American companies are good corporate citizens. We don’t hear much about them, because they aren’t newsworthy.

Monsanto, on the other hand, is very newsworthy.

Most media about Monsanto is focused on its herbicide Roundup, which has been shown to cause cancer if people are repeatedly exposed to it. (There have been several recent jury verdicts awarding breathtaking sums to afflicted users.) But Monsanto’s sins go well beyond the manufacture and sale of a dangerous product.

The company is especially vicious in its efforts to silence reporters and food safety activists whose coverage is less than glowing.

A non-profit food safety watchdog on Thursday revealed the lengths the agrochemical company Monsanto has gone to in order to keep the dangers of its products secret—monitoring journalists and attempting to discredit them, identifying a progressive musician and activist as a threat, and crafting a plan to counter the watchdog’s public information requests about the company.

Monsanto’s so-called “fusion center” targeted U.S. Right to Know (USRTK), which investigates safety and transparency issues within the U.S. food system. When USRTK filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests beginning in 2015 regarding Monsanto’s relationship’s with publicly-funded universities, the multinational corporation assembled a plan to counter the group’s findings, according to newly-released documents.

Journalists and critics of the company applauded USRTK’s release of the documents and said they only bolstered the case, long made by environmental and public health advocates, that Monsanto must be stopped from profiting off dangerous chemicals and covering up their harms.

The nonprofit had made Freedom of Information requests to universities in an effort to confirm accusations that Montsanto had paid for favorable research results. The 30 plus pages of internal documents that were released detailed the company’s plans to counter and discredit the organization.

In another article, a journalist who was targeted by Monsanto explained how the company goes about discrediting those who publish unflattering reports.

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 knew the company did not like the fact that in my 21 years of reporting on the agrochemical industry – mostly for Reuters – I wrote stories that quoted skeptics as well as fans of Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds. I knew the company didn’t like me reporting about growing unease in the scientific community regarding research that connected Monsanto herbicides to human and environmental health problems. And I knew the company did not welcome the 2017 release of my book, Whitewash – The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, which revealed the company’s actions to suppress and manipulate the science surrounding its herbicide business.

Monsanto’s efforts included engineering web placement of negative “information” about her–written by Monsanto– that would pop up at the top of internet searches, production of “third party talking points,” and payments to “readers” who would post negative reviews of her book.

The records were uncovered as part of court-ordered discovery in litigation brought by plaintiffs alleging their cancers were caused by exposure to Roundup. The documents  revealed years of company activities aimed at manipulating the scientific record about Roundup.

Companies like Monsanto not only pose a danger to thousands of people–they create a perception that no business enterprise can be trusted. That perception isn’t just bad for law-abiding enterprises–it’s bad for America’s economic health.

A functioning government  with a functioning Consumer Protection agency would shut Monsanto down.


  1. “A functioning government with a functioning Consumer Protection agency would shut Monsanto down.” Well, I hate to point this out but we do not have, and probably never did have, a functioning government with a functioning Consumer Protection agency. We tried to get one back in 2008, but those “good corporate citizens” led by the Koch brothers pooled their money and power and put an end to that.
    Is it possible to ever have that dream government? That government with the honesty, compassion and will to protect the majority of its citizens from the greed of its most powerful citizens? That government “of the people, by the people and for the people”?

  2. What are the odds that we are getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, on any label on anything we eat, drink, wear, clean our homes with, etc., etc., etc.? “Truth In Advertising” got lost in the importing and exporting of everything in our daily lives. “Made In American” is long gone. The number of cancers suffered by our families, friends, neighbors, people such as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, John McCain, Beau Biden, Valerie Harper and my two oldest sons is soaring. Our own government does not protect us from foreign or domestic hazardous products and we are paying higher costs to endanger ourselves with unknown and unregulated products throughout our days and night.

    “A functioning government with a functioning Consumer Protection agency would shut Montsanto down.”

    A functioning government would start with Monsanto, a known source, but wouldn’t end the shutdown with them.

  3. What we do have is a government that selects a Monsanto executive to head the Fish and Wildlife Service.

  4. I have had a low opinion of the corporate giant Monsanto for many years. We were on a trip to Italy, in the village of Monsanto, visiting a winery that has used the Monsanto name since the 16th century. When I asked about the connection, I was told there was none and then I got a rather lengthy and bitter story about how the corporate giant , in the mid-80’s, had sued the winery over the right to use the name Monsanto. There was more than a 10 year legal battle that almost bankrupted the winery, but the winery eventually won.

    The Monsanto corporation is evil. I suspect that with the recent purchase of Bayer AG (owner of Monsanto) by Elanco, we will eventually see the downfall of all these companies as the “Roundup” story continues.

  5. JoAnn,

    I agree with everything you wrote. Our federal and state governments have many employees and elected officials who have been willing to sell their souls and our health for personal financial gain.

    Many State University professors, including some at Purdue, have been willing to sell out to corporations like Monsanto in order to produce reports on commercial products that contain false information and test results.

    As JoAnn always says “Follow the Money”.

  6. I stopped using weed killing products decades ago. My lawn is filled with bugs, rabbits, dogs, squirrels, gardens, birds, bats, spiders, friends, and beautiful weeds. Monsanto has brainwashed us into believing weeds deserve to die, but look at all the wonderful things that return when you stop using that poison. If we all stopped buying this nightmare, they’d go out of business faster than a mother rabbit can raise her kits. Consumerism is the most radical and immediate response to anything to do with whether a product lives or dies. Vote with your money and watch how fast things change.

  7. Elanco did not buy Bayer. Elanco bought Bayer’s animal health business. Bayer sold that part of the business to pay the awards for successful civil suits against Monsanto.

  8. The single rule of corporations is: make more money now regardless of the impact on any others ever.

    There is only way me way to mitigate that into still being a useful institution for mankind: competition which is only possible in certain markets; effective regulation; fully informed (the whole truth and nothing but) stakeholders; and progressive taxes to redistribute back the wealth that Capitalism distributes up and away from the workers who create it.

  9. Monsanto is owned and operated by capitalistic Republicans (redundancy). As with so many corporate moguls that Trump wants to feel close to, he picked the Monsanto guy to dissemble the EPA. It’s what Trump does. It’s what Republicans do. Short-term profit rules everything they do.

    The answer to these problems is to vote out EVERY Republican at EVERY level of government.

  10. theres a unmarked tanker truck,(no placards,or u.n.numbers to evaluate and warn others and first responders,if a spill or accident occurs) many wholesale buyers ship on rail also. contractors will be hired,who, can meter the contents of a rail car,on a rail siding track, into tanker trucks for distribution at contract farm and ag suppliers. applicators in the field need applicators license,by state, to spray other chemicals, mainly because of legal needs over the chemicals use,and where.. when delivered,its pumped into bulk storage upon arrival at distributors,usually pumped in a air borne opening,while pumping into the container. the trucker does not need a special Haz Mat endorcement on his CDL to haul roundup..
    hense,the trucker also has alot of exposure,and cheaper rates offered to him because its not Haz Mat… monsanto wins again!

  11. How can farm corporations grow and harvest those square miles of wheat, corn, soybeans, etc. in the Midwest without chemical weed control?
    If freed from their detention cages, do Latino migrants pull the weeds by hand?

  12. Whose Bread I Eat, His song I Sing. With our corrupt campaign finance system, the 1% and the multi-national corporations via PACS and Super Pacs are able to find enough puppets and stooges to be elected to public office from the local all the way to the federal level in Washington DC.

    The elected puppets and stooges will carry the water. The regulators like the EPA or CDC, have the scientists to look into the facts. However, the control will rest with the administrators and managers, who can steer any investigation into a Black Hole.

    The McMega-Media have ignored the poisoning of the planet. Logic dictates they would ignore the poisoning. The advertising revenue for Round-Up, like Big Pharma is nothing but pure profit. The McMega-Media will not bite the hands that feed it. Whose Bread I Eat, His song I Sing.

    One thing President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence have proven is how easy it is to dismantle and/or ignore rules and regulations.

  13. OMG,
    Farmers use to till the soil to keep the weeds down, and for fertilizer they planted cover crops like alfalfa to be tilled in before planting. Manure was also spread across the fields, but that went away with the advent of those feed lots the industrial farmers are so fond of. The use of chemicals makes it possible to get more grain per acre, but that is seen as a necessity because consumers eat so much beef and chicken, both of which need large amounts of grain.
    What had once been seen as a noble way of life has become a life endangering business.

  14. JoAnn, Evidence for cancer rates are soaring? Also, are autism rates soaring?

    Sheila, As an attorney you should recognize there are differences between jury verdicts and what are truth and science.

  15. Let’s face it. The world is stuck with Roundup and genetically modified seeds in order to feed 7.5-11B humans whose diet includes meat. The number who die as a result is smaller than the number who would die without that level of agricultural productivity.

  16. In addition to the link with cancer, did you know that there is a direct correlation between rising use of glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) and the number of people that have have gluten intolerance. If you are suddenly 10% of the US population that seems to have gluten intolerance, maybe you really just have a Roundup intolerance.

    PS Paul, Yes, Elanco bought “Bayer AG”, the Ag division, the part that owns Monsanto.

  17. Monsanto -Bayer has lots of blood on their hands..I have been suffering from non hoskins lymphoma since november 2017..
    I have seen information from many sources that monsanto knew for many years that ROUNDUP WAS OR COULD KILL PEOPLE..their greed for money is more imp. Than human lives..THE EPA DIRECTOR IS A MONEY HUNGRY MAN WHO I BELIEVE DONT CARE ABOUT NO ONE..

  18. If the Trump team. EPA dont stop supporting monsanto -Bayer ..hopefully someone who cares about HUMANITY..WILL stop ALL THESE CORPORATIONS MAKING AND SELLING THESE POISON CHEMICALS..REMEMBER ROUNDUP IS ONLY A BRAND NAME ..any of these chemicals that contain GLYPHOSATE..IS THE SAME AS ROUNDUP..

  19. Yet, go into any Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards or even a local hardware store and you will see displays of Round-up for sale. Those displays are prominently placed and clearly corporately designed. Stores get paid to put those products in places most likely to attract attention.

    This is occurring after the verdicts and fines. What does that tell us? It tells us that Monsanto is doing business as usual in arrogance and greed.

  20. J.D. lowes y home depo just got hit with a major lawsuit for their roundup sales..
    Thank God the people are waking up.


  22. BTW, genetically modified plants won’t cause cancer or kill you outright. It’s the other stuff. It’s the same mindless fear associated with irradiating meats and/or vegetables. They do NOT become radioactive.

  23. Science (and civic as well) related rumors and myths are fun to trade like baseball cards and very occasionally turn out to be prescient but that’s not very likely.

    Scientific research on the other hand is laborious and tedious but the chances of it uncovering universal truth are very high.

    As the human world gets complex beyond even our imagining it’s more and more essential to wait for the research to decide on critical actions.

  24. Vernon,
    Some of that “other stuff” is the contamination of ground water with those pesticides and herbicides and fungicides. A toxic mix, all swimming together waiting to be sucked up into wells. Add to the mix all of the medications secreted in urine and flushed into septic systems. Oh, it is a fine mess we have created!

  25. Theresa and Vernon; let me jump in here with some of that “other stuff” and an actual incident as an example of man-made hazardous products we have lived with for many years. Helen Caldicott reported on the Three Mile Island partial meltdown on March 28, 1979, that the leaked plutonium, P239 has a half-life of 24, 2110 YEARS. The leak was near enough to Hershey, PA, home of our favorite chocolate goodies, that the company dumped milk from Hershey’s cows for 6 weeks after the accident…just to be safe. Wonder where they dumped that milk? The leak into the groundwater not only gets into our waterways, wells and reservoirs, it it soaked up through plant roots, such as the grass those cows dined on daily. It also becomes morning dew which is absorbed by clouds which move on to other areas and return to earth as rain continuing the natural cycle. The Anti-nuclear activists at the time of the Three Mile Island leak worried about the health effects in that area. The epidemiological studies analysed the rate of cancer in that area and found it to be “a small non-significant increase in the rate of cancers and thus no causal connection was substantiated.” I’m sure that “small non-significant” group who did suffer cancers were relieved to know it was safe to eat their chocolate.

    The cleanup of the Three Mile Island spill, which we were told was insignificant, began in August 1979 and ended in December 1993; at the estimated cost of 1 BILLION DOLLARS.

    As Helen Caldicott stated; “there are safer ways to boil water” and much cheaper ways to clean up spills.

  26. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be any government agencies that protect the public. So all government agencies should be shut down. Drain the swamp. Unfortunately, this would cause a depression of epic proportions, but, oh well. Government agencies at all levels need to be whittled down to bare bones or shut down. Most have self serving parasites that do nothing of substance for the public. Adide from EPA and Monsanto, look at FAA and Boeing, and Flint Michigan and Newark NJ and contaminated water, FDA and frankenfoods, and all the local health agencies that allow low income families to live in mold infested homes. Health care probably wouldn’t be so necessary or expensive if we had competent, ethical, and uncorrupted government agencies.

  27. Sadly, this article BARELY scratches the surface. Ever get a Tox screen to see the poisons/carcinogens accumulating in your body? MTBE, Polystyrene, etc.? It’s ALARMING (NOT covered by Insurance, despite the medical necessity) & this article explains why things will only get worse. A nation that has normalized cancer doesn’t deserve it’s children.

  28. I thought my son would be particularly interested in this article. I tried to email it to him, but that didn’t work. Then I tried to post it to him on Facebook, but that didn’t work either. Any suggestions?

  29. BTW ” genetically modified food won’t cause cancer or kill you outright”. That’s not what the seralini study says. Go to for real research.

  30. What ever happened to Grand Jury inquests? Wouldn’t it be fitting to examine the relationship between the EPA and Monsanto? Documents have been presented in the last 3 Round Up court cases how the EPA was cozily aligned with Monsanto to gain usage approval of this dangerous product.

    This is so wrong, its high time to stop this type of government manipulation for financial gain all the while utilizing our hard earned tax dollars paying for a government entity that is clearly out of control.

  31. My name is Greg Vaughan I am also a victim of monsanto’s horrendous not caring about people and killing them with this stuff that I use for 30 years and I’m dying from it also they need to be hung order drawn stronger ripped in pieces

  32. Just recently the US Environmental Protection Agency found that Roundup does not cause cancer ,many other countries also came to the same conclusion. Monsanto has done great research around the world and has discovered many products to help mankind .Fear mongering does not benefit mankind

  33. I have nonhogkins lymphoma from using round up! They need to be shut down they are killing us for there own personal gain! They totally ruined my life and I had just started a new chapter in my life when they dam near killed me with there product and left my two young children without a mother!!

  34. Greg and Doris; as two of the direct victims of Round Up I want to thank you for coming forward. Here on the blog we talk about these hazardous product and waste disposal effects; you are living with the results and will probably die from them; we need to hear from more of you so we remember why we are fighting these situations and why we must fight harder.

  35. Monsanto started releasing GMO crops to the public without our knowledge and consent around 1995. They never did long-term studies and the studies that were done were quickly covered up. They knew early on that the GMOs were hazardous to our health not only the glyphosate but the GMOs themselves. Glyphosate is its own bucket of nightmare problems. In and around 2,000 W bush assigned a Monsanto lobbyist and high-powered attorney Michael Taylor, to a high position in the FDA. He proceeded to have study results changed to read that GMOs are no different than regular food. Even though they knew that that was not true. And anyone that dared to label their Foods as non-GMO were immediately sued to prevent that from ever becoming a topic of conversation. And it has only gone from bad to worse. Monsanto is without a doubt one of the most evil corporations on the face of the Earth.

  36. Sandra,
    The toxicity of Monsanto’s product should not be confused with GMOs. Here is what a doctor/scientist says about GMOs–which simply allow the speed-up of creating the hybrids humans have created for centuries.

    What are Genetically Modified Plant Foods?
    Plants with favorable characteristics have been produced for thousands of years by conventional breeding methods. Desirable traits are selected, combined, and propagated by repeated crossings over multiple generations. This is a long process, taking up to 15 years to produce new varieties. Genetic engineering allows this process to be dramatically accelerated in a highly targeted manner.

    Transgenic plants are those that have been genetically modified using recombinant DNA technology. This may involve including a gene that is not native to the plant or to modify existing genes capable of conferring a particular trait to that plant. The technology can be used in a number of ways, for example to create resistance to various stresses such as drought, extreme temperature or salinity, and resistance to harmful insects. It can also improve the nutritional content of the plant, an application that could be of particular use in the developing world. New-generation GM crops are now even being developed for the production of medicines and industrial products, such as antibodies, vaccines, plastics, and biofuels.
    Food derived from GM plants is ubiquitous in the USA, and is also included in many animal feeds. Similarly, GM cotton is widely used in clothing and other products.

    The Need for More Crops
    In the developing world, 840 million people are chronically undernourished and do not have secure access to food. Many of them are also rural farmers in developing countries, depending entirely on small-scale agriculture for their own subsistence and for a livelihood. They generally cannot afford to irrigate their crops or purchase herbicides or pesticides, leading to poor crop growth, falling yields, and pest susceptibility. To meet the increased demands in a growing world, food production in the next few decades must increase substantially in the face of decreasing fertile lands and water resources. GM plant technologies are one of a number of different approaches that are being developed to combat these problems. Specifically, studies are under way to genetically modify plants both to increase crop yields and to improve nutritional content.
    Commercial GM crops can be made to be insect resistant, a worldwide advantage. This has been particularly successful in the USA: For example, insect resistant GM corn is grown over millions of acres and comprises 35% of all corn grown in this country.
    Insect-resistant GM cotton requires far less pesticide application and produces higher crop yields than the non-GM counterpart, generating savings of up to $200 per acre for farmers.

    Increasing Nutritional Content
    In the developed world the nutritional content of food items is not of major concern, as individuals have access to a wide variety of foods that will meet all of their nutritional needs. In the developing world, however, people often rely on a single staple food crop. GM technology offers a way to alleviate some of these problems by creating plants that can combat malnutrition.
    An important example of the potential of this technology is the ‘Golden Rice Project.’ Vitamin A deficiency is widespread in the developing world and is estimated to account for the deaths of approximately 2 million children per year. In surviving children it has been identified as the leading cause of blindness. Humans can synthesize vitamin A from its precursor β-carotene, which is commonly found in many plants but not in cereal grains. The strategy of the Golden Rice Project was to introduce the correct metabolic steps into rice endosperm to allow β-carotene synthesis. In 2000, one group of scientists engineered rice that contained moderate levels of β-carotene, and since then other researchers have produced the much higher yielding ‘Golden Rice 2.’ It is estimated that about two ounces of dry Golden Rice 2 will provide 50% of the requirement of vitamin A for a one to three year-old child. This is an impressive example of a health solution that can be offered by plant biotechnology.

    Are Gm Foods Safe to Eat?
    For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States—cereals, snack foods, salad dressings—have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and scientists say these pose no danger.

    In the USA, the Food and Drug Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service are all involved in the regulatory process for GM crop approval. Consequently, GM plants undergo extensive and rigorous safety testing prior to commercialization.

    Foods derived from GM crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than 15 years, with no reported ill effects (or legal cases related to human health), despite many of the consumers coming from that most litigious of countries, the USA.
    Is there any reason that GM crops might be harmful when consumed? The presence of foreign DNA sequences in food per se poses no intrinsic risk to human health. All foods contain significant amounts of DNA. Of potential concern is the possibility that the protein produced by the modified gene may be toxic, but such a negative effect has not been found after careful safety assessment of these products.

    A potential allergic response to the novel gene product is another commonly expressed concern. New varieties of crops produced by either GM techniques or conventional breeding both have the potential to cause allergies. Concern surrounding this topic relates to two factors; the possibility that genes from known allergens may be inserted into crops not typically associated with such problems and the possibility of creating new, unknown allergens by either inserting novel genes into crops or changing the expression of endogenous proteins. In response to this issue, scientists have devoted much effort in studying both humans and animals. Thus far, the allergic potential for such products appears to be less than—or equal to—their “naturally” grown counterparts. In some instances, safety testing of GM plants has been effective in identifying allergenic potential before some products have been released to market. By contrast, if conventional plant breeding techniques had been used to achieve the same aims, there would have been no legal requirement for the assessment of allergenicity, and the plant varieties could have been commercialized without any such testing. Moreover, GM technology might also be used to decrease the levels of allergens present in plants by reducing expression levels of the relevant genes. For example, research was recently undertaken to identify an allergen in soybeans and remove it using GM technology

  37. Elanco purchased Bayer AG animal health business not it’s agriculture business. The AG behind Bayer does stand for agriculture.

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