Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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GM food tasting: Farmers or EuropaBio?

The Farmers Biotech Network GM Food tasting event,reported on by Corporate Europe Observatory recently, was not paid for by the farmers network, CEO has learned, but by EuropaBio. This sponsorship was not made clear to the people attending the event, or the media.The Farmers Biotech Network GM Food tasting event,reported on by Corporate Europe Observatory recently, was not paid for by the farmers network, CEO has learned, but by EuropaBio. This sponsorship was not made clear to the people attending the event, or the media.

The Farmers Biotech Network GM Food tasting event,reported on by Corporate Europe Observatory recently, was not paid for by the farmers network, CEO has learned, but by EuropaBio.

This sponsorship was not made clear to the people attending the event, or the media. The press pack only mentioned that the FBN had ‘shared some travel and accommodation costs with industry’ – and did not mention the involvement of the biotech industry’s main lobby group. The ‘private’ event, starring genetically modified MON810 polenta and organised by lobbying company Edelman-TheCentre on behalf of the ‘Farmers Biotech Network’, was part of industry’s campaign to persuade  MEPs to ‘give farmers more choice’ in growing GM crops.

David Hill, the chairmaan of the FBN (uniting a mere 18 farmers from different European countries) told CEO when asked  that “No fees or salaries are paid to its members, who are all volunteers. For this event, they have shared some travel and accommodation costs with industry".

Hill added that “In the interest of balance we are sure you will agree that despite the fact that you were not invited to this private event, you were allowed to stay and you were allowed to speak to all those who participated.” But the representatives of CEO and Via Campesina who were present, had been told by The Centre that it was an open event.

Edelman-TheCentre’s involvement in the lobbying activities of the FBN goes back a long way. In November 2009, staff from The Centre (Nailia Dindarova and Guillermo Beltrà) were present at another FBN meeting in Brussels. During that time, the Farmers Biotech network “and a cluster of cross-party MEPs in Brussels” came out together saying that “national governments must help strengthen farmers' ability to meet current and future expectations of GM farm productivity amidst ’media driven’ consumer hostility and expanding imports”. (source: AgBiotech Reporter)

Both Dindarova and Beltrà have lobbyists’ access passes to the European Parliament, but Edelman-TheCentre is not in the EU Commission’s lobbying register. According to Edelman-TheCentre, “EuropaBio have been our client for some years now and we continue to provide them with ongoing consultancy support.”

In December 2009, the FBN released a statement which started:  “We, farmers from all over Europe”, despite the very limited number of farmers that are actually member of the FBN. They called on ‘European leaders’ to “allow us to become more competitive and more sustainable.”

It seems that rather than representing a substantial number of farmers, the Farmers Biotech Network is paid and used by EuropaBio as ‘another’ pro-GM voice in their lobby efforts.

The Farmers Biotech Network GM Food tasting event,reported on by Corporate Europe Observatory recently, was not paid for by the farmers network, CEO has learned, but by EuropaBio. This sponsorship was not made clear to the people attending the event, or the media. The press pack only mentioned that the FBN had ‘shared some travel and accommodation costs with industry’ – and did not mention the involvement of the biotech industry’s main lobby group. The ‘private’ event, starring genetically modified MON810 polenta and organised by lobbying company Edelman-TheCentre on behalf of the ‘Farmers Biotech Network’, was part of industry’s campaign to persuade  MEPs to ‘give farmers more choice’ in growing GM crops.David Hill, the chairmaan of the FBN (uniting a mere 18 farmers from different European countries) told CEO when asked  that “No fees or salaries are paid to its members, who are all volunteers. For this event, they have shared some travel and accommodation costs with industry".Hill added that “In the interest of balance we are sure you will agree that despite the fact that you were not invited to this private event, you were allowed to stay and you were allowed to speak to all those who participated.” But the representatives of CEO and Via Campesina who were present, had been told by The Centre that it was an open event.Edelman-TheCentre’s involvement in the lobbying activities of the FBN goes back a long way. In November 2009, staff from The Centre (Nailia Dindarova and Guillermo Beltrà) were present at another FBN meeting in Brussels. During that time, the Farmers Biotech network “and a cluster of cross-party MEPs in Brussels” came out together saying that “national governments must help strengthen farmers' ability to meet current and future expectations of GM farm productivity amidst ’media driven’ consumer hostility and expanding imports”. (source: AgBiotech Reporter)Both Dindarova and Beltrà have lobbyists’ access passes to the European Parliament, but Edelman-TheCentre is not in the EU Commission’s lobbying register. According to Edelman-TheCentre, “EuropaBio have been our client for some years now and we continue to provide them with ongoing consultancy support.”In December 2009, the FBN released a statement which started:  “We, farmers from all over Europe”, despite the very limited number of farmers that are actually member of the FBN. They called on ‘European leaders’ to “allow us to become more competitive and more sustainable.”It seems that rather than representing a substantial number of farmers, the Farmers Biotech Network is paid and used by EuropaBio as ‘another’ pro-GM voice in their lobby efforts.
 

Food safety, the environment, and consumer choice are at stake, as biotech industry lobbyists pressure decision makers to deregulate a new generation of genetic engineering techniques ahead of a crucial European Commission decision in February.

The voice of the Dutch Government has been loud and clear in Brussels on the issue of cisgenic plants. The Dutch have waged a sustained campaign to have new GM techniques – and in particular cisgenesis – excluded from EU GMO regulations. Several Dutch ministries, the Dutch Parliament, the Dutch Permanent Representation in Brussels, and Dutch MEPs have energetically pursued this goal.

At least one developer of new GM crops – Canadian-based Cibus – has attempted to bypass the European policy process by presenting policy makers with a fait accompli: decisions by individual Member States on the regulatory status of new techniques, as well as prematurely-launched trials of new GM crops.

The biotech industry is staging an audacious bid to have a whole new generation of genetic engineering techniques excluded from European regulations. The pending decision of the European Commission on the regulation of these so-called 'new GMOs' represents a climax point in the ongoing below-the-radar attack by industry on GM laws.

Commission refuses to act on the recommendations of the European Ombudsman regarding tobacco industry lobbying.

CEO turns the spotlight on another of the interest groups operating within the European Parliament.

At least one developer of new GM crops – Canadian-based Cibus – has attempted to bypass the European policy process by presenting policy makers with a fait accompli: decisions by individual Member States on the regulatory status of new techniques, as well as prematurely-launched trials of new GM crops.

The biotech industry is staging an audacious bid to have a whole new generation of genetic engineering techniques excluded from European regulations. The pending decision of the European Commission on the regulation of these so-called 'new GMOs' represents a climax point in the ongoing below-the-radar attack by industry on GM laws.

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