Bayer says Monsanto watch lists are not illegal watch

FRANKFURT: Lawyers hired by Germans chemical giant Bayer found no illegal activity on the watch lists of hundreds of pro- and anti-pesticide figures maintained by its subsidiary Monsanto said the firm on Thursday.

We found no evidence to support ... allegations about the illegality of the lists of stakeholders in the campaign, the US-based law firm Sidley Austin wrote in a report published online by Bayer.

The lawyers found 1,475 politicians, journalists and others located primarily within the EU on stakeholder lists maintained by seeds and pesticide maker Monsanto 's public relations agency FleishmanHillard.

Sidley Austin said he had offered all copies of the data kept by the public relations firm.

AFP has filed a complaint with a French data protection regulatory body because some of its journalists were on the list, originally revealed by a French television channel.

FleishmanHillard compiled the lists of people active in the pesticide debate about the moment when the European Union was considering the renewal of the license for the controversial herbicide glyphosate in 2016-17.

We found no evidence to suggest that the lists of stakeholders in the campaign were developed based on the 'illegal' surveillance of individuals, as alleged, Sidley Austin wrote.

Rather, the lists appear to have been developed using publicly available information and direct contacts with the people involved, the lawyers added.

Bayer took over Monsanto for $ 63 billion in 2018 and was immediately bogged down in controversy over its agriculthemical products.

In the United States, it faces more than 13,000 lawsuits with plaintiffs claiming that glyphosate caused different types of cancer, and has suffered several defeats in the courts it plans to appeal.

Meanwhile, the EU decided in 2017 to renew the license of the chemical for a shorter than usual period of five years.

Several countries, including France and Germany, have announced plans to ban glyphosate.

The ruling ignores decades of scientific judgment from independent regulatory agencies around the world that glyphosate is safe when used properly. Bayer said on Wednesday of the German cabinet decision on the pesticide .