Some believe that increased opposition to GMO products could have sparked the Monsanto security contract, which was designed to protect its products.
Biotech giant Monsanto has hired private security firm Academi, formerly known as Blackwater, to perform security work and gather intelligence amid growing public opposition to genetically modified foods, or GMOs, according to documents obtained by The Nation. The activities may even include infiltrating anti-Monsanto activist groups.
Jeremy Scahill of The Nation reports that Blackwater executives thought the deal could bring in as much as $500,000. Carolanne Wright of Natural News believes that the agreement is part of the company’s plan to thwart anti-Monsanto advocacy against genetically modifying crops.
“It appears as though the corporation found it necessary to contract with Blackwater in order to collect intelligence on anti-Monsanto activists as well infiltrate their ranks,” writes Wright.
The documents obtained by The Nation indicate this could be part of a broader trend by corporations hiring private security firms to gather intelligence on activist groups opposed to corporate policies.
“Over the past several years, entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to U.S. and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations including, Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays,” Scahill reports.
Reports of the Monsanto security contract come on the heels of Saturday’s major international demonstrations against Monsanto and GMOs.
Thousands gathered for the March Against Monsanto in 52 countries and 436 cities, including Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. Many called for regulation of GMO foods, including labels that would allow consumers to know which foods contain GMO materials. Protesters demanding reforms carried signs reading, “Real Food 4 Real People” and “Label GMOs, It’s Our Right to Know.”
Some believe that increased public opposition to GMO products could have sparked the Monsanto security contract, which was designed to protect its products.
“Monsanto, by hiring a mercenary army and former CIA field agents, is deadly serious about protecting its deadly products. Yet, this contract further discredits the company. The public can now paint an even bleaker picture of the firm that brought us Agent Orange, PCBs, rBST, DDT, aspartame and, now, hit men,” writes blogger Randy Ananda.
Monsanto has been criticized for producing GMOs that some scientific studies have claimed causes cancer. Groups like the Center for Food Advocacy claim that in recent years, the multinational agricultural corporation filed 142 patent infringement suits against 410 farmers and 56 small businesses across the U.S.
The Non-GMO project reports that 80 percent of foods in supermarkets across the U.S. contain GMOs, including tomatoes, corn, potatoes and soybeans.
Academi and its predecessor, Blackwater, also bring a controversial history to the security agreement. Blackwater security guards were scrutinized for their roles in 2007’s Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, which left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. Guards reportedly opened fire on Iraqi civilians during a routine security operation. Winessesses said the attack was an unprovoked act of indiscriminate shooting.
An internal Iraqi investigation found that at least five Blackwater employees were responsible for firing the shots, killing 17 without cause. U.S. federal investigators concluded that the guards killed 14 without cause.
The private security firm also paid a $7.5 million fine in August 2012 to settle federal criminal charges related to arms smuggling.