Recent documents have revealed that agriculture giant Monsanto had considered legal action against singer-songwriter Neil Young regarding his 2015 album, The Monsanto Years. The issue came to light after a series of documents, including internal memos made by the company, were released as a part of their ongoing legal battle regarding their Roundup weed killer. The newly released documents show that the company had a special “fusion center” to keep track of journalists and publications that were critical towards the company. Monsanto created a database of articles and organizations that it felt may be harmful towards the brand and their image. One of the individuals monitored by Monsanto is musician Neil Young, who has been very vocal about his criticisms about the company.
In 2015, Young released The Monsanto Years, an album which targeted various companies and brands which the singer felt were greedy and engaged in unfair or unsafe practices. One of the main topics of the project, as can be seen in the name, was Monsanto. Young has always been passionate about sustainable farming and safe food practices, taking a heavy role in the production of the Farm Aid music festival each year. Farm Aid is a charitable festival that works to help local farmers get their goods and produce to those in their communities, helping ensure more nutritious food and safer farming practices. It is no wonder why Monsanto had chosen Young as one of the people to keep an eye on, as the singer has an incredibly long history of standing up for small farmers.
The internal Monsanto memos revealed that the company had been keeping tabs on Young’s social media activity around the release of The Monsanto Years, looking into the impact he was having on the public through the amount of interactions he had online. The memo also stated that the company was looking into what Young might do next, developing strategies to deal with bad press on a variety of topics Monsanto felt Young might address further. It also detailed that Monsanto had been in talks with legal teams regarding Young and his statements on the company, discussing whether or not legal action would be prudent. In the end it appears that Monsanto decided against legal action, however the business monitoring any individuals it feels could be threats is a scary concept.