The agri-chemical giant has a storied history of using shady tactics to attack critics and influence the media. It was early March when other reporters first noticed Sylvie Barak. About a half a dozen journalists were in a northern California courtroom to cover a third lawsuit alleging that Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate causes cancer.

Barak told others that she was a freelancer for the BBC. She was friendly and helpful, listened earnestly as reporters discussed their private lives; she offered parenting tips and shared her thoughts on the trial. Barak also mentioned that she supplemented her income with PR consulting to pay the bills. One night, she invited several of the female reporters to a meet-and-greet for one of her clients, the European Institute of Innovation & Technology.

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