Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Setbacks for Round Table Responsible Soy

The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a much criticised initiative for the certification of soy as ‘responsible’, has stepped up its lobbying to be included under the EU's Renewable Energy Directive to certify ‘sustainable agrofuels’. This would give RTRS-approved soy, much of which would be produced in unsustainable and damaging monoculture farming, the EU's seal of approval in the context of the EU 10% agrofuels target.

  • Dansk
  • Nederlands
  • English
  • Suomi
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Ελληνικά
  • Italiano
  • Bokmål
  • Polski
  • Portuguese
  • Română
  • Slovenščina
  • Español
  • Svenska

But the RTRS' lobby efforts are now facing setbacks as an important Brazilian player has left the RTRS and the Dutch government seems to be having seconds thoughts about ‘responsible’ soy. The RTRS was so far financed principally by the Dutch government.The RTRS lost one of its key members this week when the Brazilian Association ofVegetable Oil Industries ABIOVE announced they would leave. ABIOVE has disappeared from the RTRS membership list, but according to TraceConsult, “ABIOVE will not go public with this information as they do not intend todiscredit the RTRS.”[1]

Another important RTRS member, APROSOJA, representing large Brazilian soy producers, already left last year because of the ‘deforestation clause’ included in the round table's basic set of Principles and Criteria. As TraceConsult points out, “With APROSOJA defecting already last year and ABIOVE tip-toeing out now, the world’s second largest soy producing country, Brazil, is hardly represented in the RTRS any longer. It is no coincidence that ABIOVE, also this week, has announced its own certification: SOJA PLUS. The objectives of SOJA PLUS are clear: an even cheaper and simpler certification system to repair the damaged image of Brazilian soy producers.

Apart from losing Brazilian members, the RTRS suffered another blow last week, when the Dutch government decided to reject a 68 million euro funding proposal on ‘sustainable trade’ initiatives, which included the RTRS. The funding application came from the two Dutch NGOs that drive the RTRS in Europe, WWF and Solidaridad. [2]

Meanwhile,the RTRS has formed a working group to promote that the RTRS will be accredited by the European Commission under the Renewable Energy Directive as a qualified certification scheme tocertify ‘sustainable’ agrofuels. This, however, would require a major overhaul of the RTRS deforestation clause, which as it is now does not come close to meet the EU criteria on this matter. [3]

Another RTRS member, Patagonia Bioenergia, has hired one of Brussels’ most controversial PR agencies, Burson Marsteller, to set up meetings with Members of European Parliament. Laetitia Bourgeix of Burson Marsteller wrote to several MEPs on behalf of Federico Pochat, CEO at Patagonia Bioenergia S.A andExecutive Director of CARBIO (Argentinean Chamber of Biofuels) to arrange meetings in mid-February. Bourgeix mentioned that Mr Pochat would like todiscuss “... aspects of the Renewable Directive like default and actual values, sustainability criteria and trade issues”.[4] “As a key player in the Argentinean biofuels industry and member of the Round Table of Responsible Soy(RTRS), he would like to explain that Argentinean biodiesel is one of the world’s most competitive and sustainable biofuels, adhering to the highest international environmental standards”, the Burson Marsteller lobbyist wrote.

This happens in a context of the EU agrofuels debate entering a new stage of intensity, due to the upcoming Commission report on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The report will assess how the broader land use impacts of agrofuelsproduction influence the greenhouse gas balance of agrofuels.

BursonMarsteller is not the only consultancy that has been hired by the agrofuelsindustry to influence this debate: Edelman Public Affairs now works for the Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby Group, including arranging meetings with Members of European Parliament. Edelman's Noémie Papp wrote: "Sime Darby is closely following a number of EU policy initiatives in the fields of Environment, Agriculture and Energy linked to palm oil, sustainability, biofuels and biomass issues. SimeDarby is very committed to making a substantive contribution to these policy debates and believes that a sustained dialogue is key to achieving effective outcomes." [5]And then there's Gplus, which still works for the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Weber Shandwick, moreover, is conducting a survey on behalf of Brazil’s sugarbarons united in UNICA, in order to “... help UNICA better understand the perceptions and expectations of key stakeholders, and will subsequently inform UNICA’s communications strategy and input to policy debates in Europe.” UNICA’s lobby is also assisted by Cabinet DN, a Brussels-based consultancy full offormer MEPs and EP staffers. Cabinet DN, which is not registered in the EU's lobbying transparency register, prominently highlights its policy of “client confidentiality” on its website.[6]

 

[1]www.traceconsult.ch[2] http://www.viceversaonline.nl/2010/04/afvaller-solidaridad-boos-waar-is-... communication with DG TREN[4] emailcommunication from Burson Marsteller to MEPs, January 2010[5] emailcommunication from Edelman to MEPs, April 2010[6] http://blog.brusselssunshine.eu/2010/03/cashing-in-on-secrecy.html

But the RTRS' lobby efforts are now facing setbacks as an important Brazilian player has left the RTRS and the Dutch government seems to be having seconds thoughts about ‘responsible’ soy. The RTRS was so far financed principally by the Dutch government.The RTRS lost one of its key members this week when the Brazilian Association ofVegetable Oil Industries ABIOVE announced they would leave. ABIOVE has disappeared from the RTRS membership list, but according to TraceConsult, “ABIOVE will not go public with this information as they do not intend todiscredit the RTRS.”[1]Another important RTRS member, APROSOJA, representing large Brazilian soy producers, already left last year because of the ‘deforestation clause’ included in the round table's basic set of Principles and Criteria. As TraceConsult points out, “With APROSOJA defecting already last year and ABIOVE tip-toeing out now, the world’s second largest soy producing country, Brazil, is hardly represented in the RTRS any longer. It is no coincidence that ABIOVE, also this week, has announced its own certification: SOJA PLUS. The objectives of SOJA PLUS are clear: an even cheaper and simpler certification system to repair the damaged image of Brazilian soy producers.Apart from losing Brazilian members, the RTRS suffered another blow last week, when the Dutch government decided to reject a 68 million euro funding proposal on ‘sustainable trade’ initiatives, which included the RTRS. The funding application came from the two Dutch NGOs that drive the RTRS in Europe, WWF and Solidaridad. [2]Meanwhile,the RTRS has formed a working group to promote that the RTRS will be accredited by the European Commission under the Renewable Energy Directive as a qualified certification scheme tocertify ‘sustainable’ agrofuels. This, however, would require a major overhaul of the RTRS deforestation clause, which as it is now does not come close to meet the EU criteria on this matter. [3]Another RTRS member, Patagonia Bioenergia, has hired one of Brussels’ most controversial PR agencies, Burson Marsteller, to set up meetings with Members of European Parliament. Laetitia Bourgeix of Burson Marsteller wrote to several MEPs on behalf of Federico Pochat, CEO at Patagonia Bioenergia S.A andExecutive Director of CARBIO (Argentinean Chamber of Biofuels) to arrange meetings in mid-February. Bourgeix mentioned that Mr Pochat would like todiscuss “... aspects of the Renewable Directive like default and actual values, sustainability criteria and trade issues”.[4] “As a key player in the Argentinean biofuels industry and member of the Round Table of Responsible Soy(RTRS), he would like to explain that Argentinean biodiesel is one of the world’s most competitive and sustainable biofuels, adhering to the highest international environmental standards”, the Burson Marsteller lobbyist wrote.This happens in a context of the EU agrofuels debate entering a new stage of intensity, due to the upcoming Commission report on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC). The report will assess how the broader land use impacts of agrofuelsproduction influence the greenhouse gas balance of agrofuels.BursonMarsteller is not the only consultancy that has been hired by the agrofuelsindustry to influence this debate: Edelman Public Affairs now works for the Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby Group, including arranging meetings with Members of European Parliament. Edelman's Noémie Papp wrote: "Sime Darby is closely following a number of EU policy initiatives in the fields of Environment, Agriculture and Energy linked to palm oil, sustainability, biofuels and biomass issues. SimeDarby is very committed to making a substantive contribution to these policy debates and believes that a sustained dialogue is key to achieving effective outcomes." [5]And then there's Gplus, which still works for the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC). Weber Shandwick, moreover, is conducting a survey on behalf of Brazil’s sugarbarons united in UNICA, in order to “... help UNICA better understand the perceptions and expectations of key stakeholders, and will subsequently inform UNICA’s communications strategy and input to policy debates in Europe.” UNICA’s lobby is also assisted by Cabinet DN, a Brussels-based consultancy full offormer MEPs and EP staffers. Cabinet DN, which is not registered in the EU's lobbying transparency register, prominently highlights its policy of “client confidentiality” on its website.[6] [1]www.traceconsult.ch[2] http://www.viceversaonline.nl/2010/04/afvaller-solidaridad-boos-waar-is-... communication with DG TREN[4] emailcommunication from Burson Marsteller to MEPs, January 2010[5] emailcommunication from Edelman to MEPs, April 2010[6] http://blog.brusselssunshine.eu/2010/03/cashing-in-on-secrecy.html

 
A new film 'Endocrination' by French investigative journalist Stephane Horel was broadcast on France 5 in August. This must-watch film is now online. The film shows how corporations and actors within the Commission are teaming up to demolish a major piece of public health legislation.
Campaign groups today called on members of the European Parliament to back citizens' demands for improved rules to prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops. A letter signed by five environment, consumers and farmers groups was sent to all members of the parliament's environment committee, which will debate this controversial issue later in the week.
A few observations on the debate sparked by our open letter on the position of Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission, and on the need for proper scientific advice to EU legislators.
No sector has lobbied the European Commission more when it was preparing negotiations on the proposed EU-US trade deal (TTIP) than the agribusiness sector, according to data published today by CEO in a series of research-based infographics.
Here are some examples of the blurry line between private business and public office that have characterised the Spanish nominee for the Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Arias Cañete’s career.
A new film 'Endocrination' by French investigative journalist Stephane Horel was broadcast on France 5 in August. This must-watch film is now online. The film shows how corporations and actors within the Commission are teaming up to demolish a major piece of public health legislation.
Corporate Europe Observatory is looking for an experienced, French-speaking campaigner to join our team and strengthen our work on the EU-US trade and investment deal (TTIP). This position is a full time (36 hours per week) temporary position for one year. React before Friday September 26th 2014.
Karmenu Vella is a Maltese politician and the country's nominee to be European commissioner, responsible for environment, maritime and fisheries. He has been a member of the Maltese parliament since 1976, but that hasn't prevented him from also holding a variety of external business roles at the same time including within the gambling industry. CEO now argues that these recent outside interests make him unsuitable to be a commissioner.

Corporate Europe Forum