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.

Reference:

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

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.

Reference:

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

An article in The Ecologist on 15th of July 2015 reported that a study commissioned by the Norwegian government, and conducted by a nationally recognised scientific authority on the safety of biotechnologies, concluded that available scientific data on GM crops was inadequate to prove their safety.
The scientific report was commissioned by the Norwegian Environment Agency and completed in 2014, before being publicly released in June 2015 by the Genok Centre for Biosafety, located in the Arctic University of Norway. The Genok Centre was a nationally-designated centre of competence on biosafety issues.
The study analysed a dossier by giant agribusiness conglomerate, Monsanto, submitted to the Brazilian government, and conducted a comprehensive review of the available scientific literature from other sources.
Its focus was on Monsanto's GM soybean Intacta Roundup Ready 2 Pro, which was grown in Brazil, and also authorised in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, and probably also present in Bolivia due to illegal introductions from neighbouring countries.
The report, titled 'Sustainability Assessment of Genetically Modified Herbicide Tolerant Crops' concluded that due to major gaps in the scientific literature, it was not possible to give a scientific verdict on their safety.
Monsanto's dossier, the report concluded, demonstrated a range of methodological weaknesses, and highlighted the problem of incomplete information and research on GM crops in the available literature.
According to Monsanto, genetically modified organisms did not harm human or animal health, and therefore did not have any adverse effects on crops and the environment. But according to the new Norwegian study:
"Contrary to this assertion, the literature provides indications of harmful and adverse effects to the environment and to health (both animal and human), as well as to socio-economic conditions, particularly over the medium- and long-term."
The new study was authored by a researcher at the Agroecology Centre (AGRUCO) at the Faculty of Agricultural, Livestock and Forestry Sciences, University Mayor de San Simon, Cochabamba, Bolivi, who had also been technical biosafety advisor at Bolivia's Vice-Ministry of Environment, Water and Forestry Management.
"Statements of the safety of GM crops rely principally on the absence of evidence of harm in specific research tests, rather than actual evidence of safety", she said. "Absence of evidence of harm is a too low standard for adequate protection of human and environmental health ...
"Moreover, today, a large portion of the research on GM crops is based on short-term studies that have inherent methodological weakness for detecting subtle yet significant effects that materialise in the long-term. Another common weakness?-?as indicated in my report?-?is the lack sufficient analytical rigour to derive any meaningful conclusions."
According to her report, the large number of studies which indicated positive impacts of GM crops were questionable because of such "methodological limitations", which largely ignored "possible long-term effects" and used a "reduced and repetitive set of indicators."
"These limitations", the Norwegian report concluded, "partially explain the kinds of findings reported by the applicant [Monsanto]: all of them showing no possible adverse effects in contrast to a significant body of literature."
A spokesman for Monsanto, dismissed the report's findings: "We are confident that GM crops can be and are being properly assessed for safety and that GM crops being used by farmers are just as safe and in some cases safer than conventional crops and foods."
He added that GM crops were "designed to be safe" by scientists and plant breeders, and that national and international regulators whose job was "to check that a crop is safe and to protect consumers" have certified GM:
"Since GM crops were first grown on a large scale 19 years ago in the mid 1990's, billions of meals including ingredients from these crops have been safety consumed by people around the world. No health effects what so ever have been observed?-?GM crops have a track record of safety."
The author of the study, however, disagreed. At the request of the Norwegian Environment Agency, the report focused on analysing the herbicide tolerant trait of Monsanto's 'Intacta' crop.
"The literature contains a number of recent scientific studies which do indicate potential adverse effects", she said, and noted that Monsanto's comment solely concerned Intacta's insect resistance. By selectively focusing on studies of only certain impacts of the crop, Monsanto and other biotechnology companies were misleading the public.

Reference:

GMO study finds 'indications of harmful and adverse effects' (15 July 2015)

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

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.

Reference:

Open Secrets generic ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

The German chemical manufacturing giant Bayer lost its attempt to sue Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) over the issue of its pesticide formulations harming bees, according to an article published on 12 March 2015 on the Ecologist website. The article reported that "a judge in Dusseldorf has ruled that BUND had a right to voice its concerns about Bayer's 'Calypso' and 'Lizetan' pesticide formulations, sold to consumers as 'not toxic to bees'. Both contain the neonicotinoid Thiacloprid which is associated with harm to bees." The ruling overturned the restraining order Bayer had taken out against BUND in December 2014, preventing the group from publishing its view, under threat of a €250,000 fine or a detention of up to two years.
According to BUND, there was scientific evidence that Thiacloprid impaired bees' learning ability, as well as their ability to communicate and forage for pollen. "A paper published in the Journal PLOS ONE confirms that Thiacloprid, along with the neonicotinoids Imidacloprid and Clothianidin, affects bees' navigational ability and behaviour, making it harder for them to find their way back to their hives. It also shows that exposure to Thiacloprid can increase the likelihood of honeybees dying if they are already infected with diseases."
BUND further believed that by printing a 'not toxic to bees' logo on products containing Thiacloprid, following the emergence of contrary evidence, Bayer could have been deliberately deceiving its customers. BUND called for the immediate withdrawal from sale of all Thiacloprid pesticides.
"In 2013 three other neonicotinoid pesticides (imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin) were subject to a temporary ban in the EU. This followed a review of evidence by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which found they each posed a 'high acute risk' to honey bees." The Global Taskforce on Systemic Pesticides concluded that the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides was affecting not only bees, but earthworms, birds and the quality of water and soils.

Reference:

Bees victory in pesticide battle - Bayer libel action dismissed (12 March 2015)

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.

Reference:

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.

Reference:

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.

Reference:

Form DEF 14a (30 April 2019)

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

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.

Reference:

Generic Hoovers ref 2019 (2 January 2019)

A report published by Citizens for Tax Justice on 6 October 2015 criticized US tax policy on large multinational corporations. Many multinational corporations used accounting tricks to pretend for that a substantial portion of their profits were generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence could be as little as a mailbox.

The study examined the use of tax havens by Fortune 500 companies in 2014. It revealed that tax haven use was ubiquitous among America’s largest companies and that a narrow set of companies benefited disproportionately.

Amongst these companies Monsanto was found to maintain six subsidiaries in tax havens: British Virgin Islands(1), Luxembourg(1), Netherlands(3) and Switzerland(1). The amount held offshore was $4.4 billion. Neither the overall rate of the tax paid on this overseas cash, nor any estimate of the US tax avoided, were disclosed.

Reference:

Offshore Shell Games 2015 (5 October 2015)