It was reported on the EcoWatch website on 27th January 2016 that the European Patent Office had revoked a false patent on genetically modified (GMO) melons held by Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, after a public hearing in Munich, Germany, on January 20th 2016.
The Europe-based coalition No Patents on Seeds spearheaded the opposition. According to a press release from the organization, Monsanto claimed that melons with a natural resistance to plant viruses was its own invention even though the resistance was already detected in indigenous melon varieties in India. Using conventional breeding methods, this type of resistance had been introduced from an Indian melon to other melons and had then been patented as a Monsanto “invention.” No Patents on Seeds argued that Monsanto’s patent was awarded to the company even though European patent law did not allow patents on plant varieties and processes for conventional breeding. “The patent was based on essentially biological processes for breeding and claimed plant varieties. This was a clear violation of European patent law,” said No Patents on Seeds coordinator Christoph Then in a statement.
Opponents feared that by arming itself with this patent, Monsanto “could block access to all breeding material inheriting the virus resistance derived from the Indian melon.”
According to research from No Patents on Seeds, approximately 100 new patent applications from agribusinesses had been filed in just 2015 alone. These patents are for carrots, potatoes, brassica plants, maize, melons, pepper, rice, lettuce, soybeans, spinach, tomatoes, wheat and onions.
As plant biotechnology continued to advance, they said, these patents highlighted the increasingly controversial topic of corporations patenting - and arguably controlling - the world’s plants and seeds for financial profit.


Monsanto Slammed for Violating European Patent Law for GMO Melon (27 January 2016)

It was reported on the EcoWatch website on 27th January 2016 that Monsanto was suing California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) after it gave notice of plans to add glyphosate to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause cancer, making it the first state in the United States to do so. The state agency’s decision came after the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC), the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, declared that glyphosate was a “possible carcinogen” in March 2015.

Monsanto’s response cited a 2007 study by OEHHA that concluded the chemical was unlikely to cause cancer. The company had long maintained the safety of their flagship product and had vehemently denied glyphosate’s link to cancer. The agribusiness giant had also demanded a retraction of the IARC’s report.

“Monsanto’s decision to sue California and attack the most well-respected cancer research agency in the world, the IARC, is absurd,” Dr. Nathan Donley, scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, told EcoWatch via email. “Why would California use anything other than the gold standard to inform its public health decisions?”

Roundup, which had generated Monsanto $4.8 billion in 2015 revenue, was the world’s most popular herbicide, the article said. The chemical was applied onto “Roundup Ready” crops that had been genetically modified to resist applications of the spray.

In September 2015, two separate U.S. agricultural workers issued Monsanto with lawsuits, alleging that the company had caused their cancers. They also argued that the company “falsified data” and “led a prolonged campaign of misinformation” to convince the public, farm workers and government agencies about the safety of the Roundup.


Monsanto Files Lawsuit to Stop California From Listing Glyphosate as Known Carcinogen (22 January 20

In June 2018, Ethical Consumer viewed a report on the Environmental Working Group’s website, which had been published in February 2016.

The report stated that “Big food, farm and biotechnology companies and trade associations working to prevent labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients reported spending $101.4 million on lobbying last year.”

The report looked at the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association, a trade group that represents food manufacturers, as well as specific companies. It stated that the GMA filed disclosures reporting $10.5 million in lobbying expenditures in 2015 for the anti-labelling battle and other GMA legislative priorities. It also stated that since January 2014 the GMA had hired 34 lobbyists and spent $2.8 million on lobbying that went exclusively to advocate anti-GMO-labelling legislation.

The report also discussed the DARK Act, which had passed the House of Representatives and was being discussed in the Senate, in February 2016. The act would bar states from enacting laws to require GMO labelling and make it harder for companies to make voluntary GMO disclosures. The Act had been passed in August 2016.

The report stated that 9 out of 10 Americans supported GMO labelling laws, and some 64 other nations had imposed them.

Bayer was said to have spent a total of $18,910,000 on lobbying, between 2013-2015, including $7,840,000 in 2015. It therefore lost half a mark under both Political Activities and Controversial Technologies.

Reference: (25 February 2016)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the Bayer AG company profile on the Open Secret’s website,

Bayer and its employees gave $1,076,031 in political donations in 2018, with 59% going to Republicans. It also spent a whopping $13,430,000 on lobbying. It was thus marked down in the political activities category.


Open Secrets generic ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed its list of the members of corporate lobby groups that it considered to exert under corporate influence on policy-makers in favour of market solutions that were potentially detrimental to the environment and human rights, updated in February 2019 from the websites of the groups concerned.

Bayer was listed as a member of the following groups:

The Business Roundtable
World Business Council for Sustainable Development
World Economic Forum
Institute of International Finance
American Legislative Exchange Council

It was thus marked down in the political activities category.


Ethical Consumer Lobby Group member list (7 February 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the compensation report in Bayer’s 2018 Annual Report. Several senior staff were listed as earning over £1 million, the amount that Ethical Consumer considered excessive. The highest paid received 5,304,000 Euros.


Bayer website (29 May 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed Monsanto's form DEF 14a. It stated that the highest paid member of staff in 2018 was paid $ 1,501,058. Ethical Consumer viewed payment of over £1 million as excessive.


Form DEF 14a (30 April 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed the Bayer family tree on the corporate information website

A number of high risk subsidiaries were based in jurisdictions considered by Ethical Consumer to be tax havens at the time of writing. Subsidiaries included:

Holding company: Bayer (Schweiz) AG based in Switzerland.
Holding company: Bayer Consumer Care based in Switzerland

Bayers' latest annual report was checked but it contained no country-by-country tax reporting.

As Bayer had more than two high risk company types (holding companies) based in tax havens at the time of writing, it received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for the likely use of tax avoidance strategies.


Generic Hoovers ref 2019 (2 January 2019)