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.
 

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 .

On 15 June 2016, the Commission will finally announce the long-awaited scientific criteria for EDCs. Time to do a recap of this last season’s main episodes.

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.

José Manuel Barroso's move to Goldman Sachs has catapulted the EU’s revolving door problem onto the political agenda. It is symbolic of the excessive corporate influence at the highest levels of the EU.

Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth and LobbyControl today wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, calling on him to investigate Angelika Nieber MEP over a possible conflict of interest.

CEO presents some first reflections on the UK's vote for Brexit.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour