(Reuters) – Bayer AG on Tuesday hired the Sidley Austin LLP law firm to investigate a European data collection system run by its Monsanto unit, which targeted journalists, politicians, and other stakeholders to influence the pesticide debate.
Last week, Bayer admitted that Monsanto, which it acquired for $ 63 billion last year, had collected non-public information as part of the campaign, which the French media sought to influence the public debate on pesticides and genetically modified products.
Bayer faces potentially heavy trial costs from US class action, where the plaintiff claims that its Roundup weedkiller, which contains glyphosate, causes cancer. Bayer questions this.
In a Q&A document published on its website on Tuesday, Bayer said that US PR and marketing agency Fleishman-Hillard Inc., on behalf of Monsanto, had mapped stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK and stakeholders related to EU institutions.
Sidley Austin will examine how many stakeholders are included in these files and whether or not others from other countries can be affected, Bayer says.
The law firm would then contact the persons concerned, most journalists, politicians and researchers, by the end of the coming week.
The French prosecutors said they had opened an inquiry after the newspaper Le Monde left a complaint claiming that Monsanto had held a 200-name file in the hope of influencing its positions.
Bayer has completed his PR collaboration with Fleishman-Hillard, but continues to work with the company on marketing projects.
Bayer Shar es has shed more than 40% since a first negative US judgment at Roundup in August in August, giving the company a market value that was less than the price it paid for Monsanto.