Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Soy Round Table fails on all fronts

Soy Round Table allows further deforestation. Brazilian soy farmers walk out.At the May 28 meeting of the Round Table on Responsible soy, criteria were agreed that will allow further deforestation, and GM RoundupReady soy to be labelled 'responsible'. NGOs WWF and Solidaridad nevertheless support the outcome. Brazilian soy farmers and an Argentinean NGO walked out. At the May 28 meeting of the Round Table on Responsible soy, criteria have been agreed that will allow further deforestation, and GM RoundupReady soy to be labelled 'responsible'. NGOs WWF and Solidaridad nevertheless support the outcome. Brazilian soy farmers and an Argentinean NGO walked out.

On May 28, the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) held its general assembly to vote on criteria for responsible soy. These had been heavily criticised by many environemental organisations and peasant movements. Within the RTRS, there was deep disagreement about whether and what biodiversity-criterion to adopt, a key element.

At the last minute, the Executive Board published criteria, which could allow responsible soy to be grown on land that was deforested as recently as May 2009. Even soy fields on recently cut prime rainforest can produce responsible soy. Worse still, soy can be labelled responsible from land deforested after May 2009 too, if the producer can demonstrate that it was not prime forest or High Conservation Value (HCV) area, or ‘local peoples’ land’ (not further defined).

This was too much even for the Brazilian association of soy producers APROSOJA, who physically walked out and cancelled their RTRS membership. Unilever representative Jan Kees Vis downplayed the importance of APROSOJA by saying they “only” produce 8% of world soybeans. This might seem little, but it is not. At the level of Brazil, APROSOJA reportedly counts for 25% of Brazilian soy production.

Representative of development NGO Solidaridad Jan Maarten Dros commented on the issue in a Dutch newspaper. He said “it is positive that APROSOJA is still willing to talk, be it under new conditions”. What conditions, we may wonder, and not a very promising negotiation strategy. Solidaridad has become the new President of the RTRS.

Argentinean NGO FUNDAPAZ has also walked out, as they don’t find the criteria strong enough, and don’t see a further role for themselves to play. This means the illegitimacy of the RTRS has only increased. After the May 28 vote, the next day Friends of the Earth Netherlands protested in front of AHOLD, a Dutch supermarket chain, who is hiding behind being member of the RTRS in order not having to take real steps to address the soy issue. (See www.milieudefensie.nl ) To date, 2400 people from around the world have sent emails to WWF, Solidaridad, AHOLD, Carrefour and other RTRS members to disbandon the RTRS via the website www.toxicsoy.org.

On May 28, the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) held its general assembly to vote on criteria for responsible soy. These had been heavily criticised by many environemental organisations and peasant movements. Within the RTRS, there was deep disagreement about whether and what biodiversity-criterion to adopt, a key element. At the last minute, the Executive Board published criteria, which could allow responsible soy to be grown on land that was deforested as recently as May 2009. Even soy fields on recently cut prime rainforest can produce responsible soy. Worse still, soy can be labelled responsible from land deforested after May 2009 too, if the producer can demonstrate that it was not prime forest or High Conservation Value (HCV) area, or ‘local peoples’ land’ (not further defined). This was too much even for the Brazilian association of soy producers APROSOJA, who physically walked out and cancelled their RTRS membership. Unilever representative Jan Kees Vis downplayed the importance of APROSOJA by saying they “only” produce 8% of world soybeans. This might seem little, but it is not. At the level of Brazil, APROSOJA reportedly counts for 25% of Brazilian soy production. Representative of development NGO Solidaridad Jan Maarten Dros commented on the issue in a Dutch newspaper. He said “it is positive that APROSOJA is still willing to talk, be it under new conditions”. What conditions, we may wonder, and not a very promising negotiation strategy. Solidaridad has become the new President of the RTRS. Argentinean NGO FUNDAPAZ has also walked out, as they don’t find the criteria strong enough, and don’t see a further role for themselves to play. This means the illegitimacy of the RTRS has only increased. After the May 28 vote, the next day Friends of the Earth Netherlands protested in front of AHOLD, a Dutch supermarket chain, who is hiding behind being member of the RTRS in order not having to take real steps to address the soy issue. (See www.milieudefensie.nl ) To date, 2400 people from around the world have sent emails to WWF, Solidaridad, AHOLD, Carrefour and other RTRS members to disbandon the RTRS via the website www.toxicsoy.org.
 

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

This week's European Commission decision to extend Glyphosate's market authorisation points to many broader problems - here is a CEO overview of the issues at large.

The official EU assessment of glyphosate was based on unpublished studies owned by industry. Seven months later, the pesticide industry still fights disclosure and, so far, successfully. We obtained a copy of their arguments.

In recent times we have seen various examples of green activists “coming out” as GMO-proponents, arguing that GMOs are safe and have multiple benefits: reduced pesticide use, higher income for farmers, contributing to food security, reduced greenhouse gas emissions... As an essential part of their discourse, organisations that continue to reject GMO technology are depicted as old-fashioned and as acting in contradiction to their own aims.

Mark Lynas is a well known example of this in the UK, with an (in)famous public apology for his past role in the anti-GM movement that drew a lot of media attention. Lynas' move has been copied by others, like blogger Stijn Bruers in Belgium. This framing of the GMO debate has proven quite attractive to the media, even though it is not always clear why specifically these people are seen to have the credentials to merit this attention.

There are many fundamental flaws in the argumentation they are putting forward. Claire Robinson of GMWatch, at the request of Corporate Europe Observatory, has written a rebuttal of many of the claims made by these newly converted GMO proponents. For practical reasons, this rebuttal follows the argumentation and claims made in an article by Bruers on his blog about GMOs .

A few weeks after the May coup against Dilma Rousseff by conservative parties backed by the country's largest corporations, Brazil's “interim” government, led by Michel Temer, signed an emergency loan to the State of Rio de Janeiro to help finance infrastructure for the 2016 Olympics. The bailout was conditional to selling off the State's public water supply and sanitation company, the Companhia Estadual de Águas e Esgotos (Cedae). 

When we interviewed City Councillor and chair of Rio’s Special Committee on the Water Crisis Renato Cinco, in December 2015, he was already warning against such privatisation threats and provided important background information on the water situation in Rio.

Never before has a former European Commission official been criticised as much for his post-EU career as ex-Commission president Barroso upon joining infamous US investment bank Goldman Sachs this summer. Citizens are outraged and evidence already points towards a gross violation of the EU Treaty.

Following the high-level appointment of former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso to Goldman Sachs, NGOs have launched a petition demanding stricter rules for ex-EU commissioners’ revolving door moves.

Corporate Europe Observatory's new report 'A spoonful of sugar' illustrates how the sugar lobby undermines existing laws and fights off much-needed measures that are vital for tackling Europe’s looming obesity crisis.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour