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EXCLUSIVE: Monsanto chief accuses rival DuPont of deceit
Question of the Day
He said DuPont would not debate the issue in the media.
Monsanto officials claim that DuPont has waged a war of dirty tricks on Monsanto to maintain its market share in the crop biotechnology business.
“What is going on now is a very well organized covert campaign by DuPont to hurt us,” Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s chief deputy general counsel, said in an interview with The Washington Times. “They attack us any way they can.”
He accused DuPont of running a “campaign to damage us with former customers and policymakers.”
Mr. Partridge said that Monsanto had hired the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe to “uncover and shed light on the depth and extent of DuPont’s covert attacks on our business through third parties.”
Lanny J. Davis, one of the Orrick partners involved in assisting Monsanto, is a specialist in crisis management and served as a special counsel to President Clinton on campaign-finance investigations and other legal matters. Mr. Davis also writes a weekly column for The Times.
Monsanto and Orrick provided a set of documents to The Times.
The current dust-up between Monsanto and DuPont goes back to DuPont’s efforts to stop Monsanto’s purchase of Delta & Pine Land.
DuPont wanted the Justice Department, which was reviewing the purchase, to reject it on the grounds that it would give Monsanto, their main competitor, an unfair advantage in selling genetically engineered traits to seed companies like Delta & Pine Land. The genetic traits are used to protect cotton from insects and weeds.
In its efforts to block the purchase, DuPont used former Sen. Tim Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican, and the law firm where he works, Dickstein Shapiro LLP, to lobby.
As part of the lobbying campaign, Mr. Hutchinson forwarded a batch of seven letters opposing the deal to his former colleague, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Georgia Republican, who was a leader of the Senate Agriculture Committee, according to documents provided by Monsanto.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2007 that three of the letters turned out to be fake: In two cases, the people whose names appeared on the letters said they knew nothing about them. A state representative, whose name was on the third letter, said a staffer had mistakenly sent it without his knowledge.
A Chambliss spokesman said he never took any action as a result of the letters, either for or against Monsanto’s purchase of Delta & Pine Land.
Ultimately, the Justice Department approved the sale but made Monsanto divest itself of a smaller seed company it owned. Mr. Hutchinson and a spokesman for the Dickstein firm did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.
Mr. Partridge said the Dickstein firm told him they did not know the letters were forged.
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