In a startling story featured in The Nation, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill revealed that in 2008, Monsanto hired a Blackwater subsidiary to spy on activist groups who conflicted with company interests. Blackwater, the controversial private military company now operating under the name Xe, is the largest of the U.S. State Department’s three private security contractors. Monsanto, the company that brought you rBGH, PCBs, DDT and Agent Orange, also produces 90% of the world’s genetically-engineered seeds.
Scahill states that in January 2008, Kevin Wilson, Monsanto’s security manager for global issues, met with a Cofer Black, a representative of Total Intelligence (a Blackwater subsidiary), to discuss protecting the Monsanto company’s brand name. Following the meeting, Black sent an e-mail to other Blackwater executives, stating that they discussed how Total Intelligence “would develop into acting as an intel arm of Monsanto.” and discussed how Blackwater “could have our person(s) actually join [activist] groups legally.”
This may not come as surprise to some following Monsanto’s history of aggressive litigation, political lobbying, and “strong-arming” the seed industry. The company’s actions have made the Monsanto name quite controversial around the world and a target of environmental activists.
In a report compiled in 2005 by The Center for Food Safety, the organization found Monsanto had filed 90 lawsuits against American farmers, involving 147 farms and 39 small businesses or farm companies. Monsanto reserves an annual budget of $10 million dollars and a staff of 75 devoted solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers.
Blackwater itself has quite an embroiled past beginning with the September 2007 incident in which company employees shot and killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square, Baghdad. According to the New York Times, Blackwater then “created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollar in American government contracts after the security company came under intense criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq.” Blackwater Worldwide is currently being sued for the Nisour Square event in an amended lawsuit which further alleges the company engaged in kidnapping, weapons smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion, child prostitution, illegal drug use and destruction of evidence.