Agribusiness giant Monsanto, which genetically modifies plants to exude or tolerate pesticide or to produce nonviable seed, hired the services of the mercenary firm Blackwater to spy on activists, Jeremy Scahill reports. A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.
This is no doubt in response to a decade of GM crop sabotage efforts around the globe. Since the publicly-announced introduction of GM crops in 1996, concerned citizens have vandalized such crops every single year somewhere on the planet. Several thousand GM plants have been partially or wholly destroyed. (See brief history below.)
Blackwater (Xe Services)
Blackwater is most notorious for its Nisour Square Massacre in 2007. Seventeen innocent civilians died when Blackwater goons opened fire in a busy market square. The hit team was later acquitted in a U.S. court.
Scahill reports that through its web of companies, Blackwater (now Xe Services) spied on and/or infilitrated groups opposing Monsanto in 2008 thru early 2010. He writes:
“The relationship between the two companies appears to have been solidified in January 2008 when Total Intelligence chair Cofer Black traveled to Zurich to meet with Kevin Wilson, Monsanto’s security manager for global issues.“After the meeting in Zurich, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, including to [then-president Erik] Prince and [former CIA paramilitary officer Enrique] Prado at their Blackwater e-mail addresses.“Black wrote that Wilson ‘understands that we can span collection from internet, to reach out, to boots on the ground on legit basis protecting the Monsanto [brand] name…. Ahead of the curve info and insight/heads up is what he is looking for.’“Black added that Total Intelligence ‘would develop into acting as intel arm of Monsanto.’ Black also noted that Monsanto was concerned about animal rights activists and that they discussed how Blackwater ‘could have our person(s) actually join [activist] group(s) legally’…. “…Wilson confirmed he met Black in Zurich and that Monsanto hired Total Intelligence in 2008 and worked with the company until early 2010. He denied that he and Black discussed infiltrating animal rights groups, stating ‘there was no such discussion.’”
“He claimed that Total Intelligence only provided Monsanto ‘with reports about the activities of groups or individuals that could pose a risk to company personnel or operations around the world which were developed by monitoring local media reports and other publicly available information. The subject matter ranged from information regarding terrorist incidents in Asia or kidnappings in Central America to scanning the content of activist blogs and websites.’”Tom Philpott of Grist notes:
“I can confirm that Monsanto likes to keep a close eye on blogs and websites. Back in 2005, I got my break as a food-politics writer after a Monsanto lawyer slapped my blog, with its all of 30 readers, with a cease-and-desist letter.”Monsanto has also openly engaged with activists on blogs. During my tenure as Senior Editor at OpEdNews.com, site owner Rob Kall approved membership for Brad Mitchell, Monsanto’s public relations chief. One writer relayed that after her articles caught Monsanto’s attention, she noticed surveillance vehicles on her street.
That early 2009 decision at OEN spiked the ire of food writers. They objected to a forum for ordinary people granting equal access to a multi-billion dollar corporation which can publish in mainstream media, and hire professional psyops agents like Burson-Marstellar. (B-M represents genocidal regimes, claimed the Bhopal disaster wasn’t so bad, promotes secret vote counting software, and is generally the go-to spindoctor for the world’s worst enterprises.)
By a wide majority, OEN members condemned Kall’s approval of Monsanto membership, forcing him to rescind it. Two months later, in May 2009, he demoted and/or banned several “radicals,” including those of us who deride GM foods. In fact, my banishment prompted the inception of Food Freedom, a website that includes coverage of GM foods and Monsanto.
But, no matter how many bloggers it tries to silence, the biotech industry has lost in the court of public opinion. This is why it lobbies to ensure genetically modified foods are not labeled. Not even Burson-Marstellar has been able to overcome the “frankenfood” reputation.
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Food Freedom (Rady Ananda)