Bayer hires law firm Sidley Austin for investigating pan-Europe influence scheme by Monsanto

Bayer has its hands full due to U.S. class-action lawsuits revolving around Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer which has glyphosate which causes cancer.

In a statement, Bayer AG said it has hired Sidley Austin, a law firm to investigate a Europe-wide data collection scheme run by Monsanto, which it acquired for $63 billion in 2018.

In its scheme Monsanto had targeted journalists, politicians and other stakeholders to influence the debate on pesticides.

Last week, Bayer admitted that Monsanto had gathered non-public information as part of its campaign, which was reported by the French media, to influence public debate on its pesticides and genetically modified products.

Bayer is facing strong headwinds in the form of hundreds of U.S. class-action lawsuits wherein plaintiffs have alleged that its Roundup weedkiller, which contains glyphosate, causes cancer. Bayer is disputing this.

In a Q&A document posted on its website on Tuesday, Bayer said U.S public relations and marketing agency FleishmanHillard, on behalf of Monsanto, had mapped stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and United Kingdom as well as stakeholders related to EU institutions.

Sidley Austin, the law firm which Bayer has now hired, will investigate how many stakeholders were included in those files and whether people from other countries could also be affected, said Bayer.

It will contact the affected people, including journalists, scientists, and politicians no later than by the end of the coming week.

French prosecutors have said they had opened an inquiry after newspaper Le Monde filed a complaint alleging that Monsanto had kept a file of 200 names in hopes of influencing their positions.

Bayer has ended its PR collaboration with FleishmanHillard, but continues to work with the firm on marketing projects.

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