Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

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Biotech lobby brochure launched at demo

Biotech lobby brochure launched at Seed Liberation demonstration in Brussels

On Monday 18 April, one day after the Via Campesina International Day of Farmers’ Struggle, a colourful ‘Anti Biotech and Pesticide Lobby tour’ took demonstrators to the streets in the EU quarter, ending at the European Parliament. The demonstration was preceded by a European-wide “Seed Swap” of diverse seed varieties (often illegal under current EU law), encouraging people to freely share their agricultural varieties. The seed swap and demonstration were organised by  the international campaign “Sowing the Future, Harvesting Diversity” (www.seed-sovereignty.org). An important motivation behind the events is the proposed EU seed legislation reform. Corporate Europe Observatory launched the new biotech and pesticides industry lobby brochure at the beginning of the demonstration, highlighting various lobby associations, individual companies, PR firms and a number of relevant EU institutions.

The first stop of the tour was the European Seeds Association (ESA) in Rue du Luxembourg, a lobby group representing the interests of large seed firms like Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. The biotech and pesticides corporations are represented via many lobby associations, including also EuropaBio, the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), Croplife and ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute).

The second stop took place at the offices of Bayer at Square de Meeûs, where demonstrators where reminded that such big biotech corporations historically developed in the chemical and warfare industry, an important fact to understand their vision of agriculture as an industry. A petition with more than 58,000 signatories was then handed over to Members of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, Marc Tarabella and Kriton Arsenis. These took the signatures in three wheelbarrows to the European Parliament building.

Jürgen Holzapfel stressed the demands of the seed campaign: "We insist on the right to resow seeds from our own harvest for purpose of propagation and further distribution. Furthermore, we wish to see support of locally adapted varieties by promotion of conservation of heritage varieties and breeding improved varieties for organic and bio-diverse agriculture. We demand a new method of seed certification, which excludes GMO or chemical and energy intensive varieties."

MEP Tarabella called for a full inquiry into the consequences of proposed EU seed legislation reform.

The demonstrators demanded:

• The right of all farmers to save seeds from their own harvest, to re-sow, distribute & sell them
• the promotion of diversity in all regions by supporting farmers and breeders of varieties that can be re-sown;
• the prohibition of GMOs in agriculture and in all European foodstuffs
• the prohibition of patents on plants and animals, their traits and genes, as well as patents on breeding methods;
• a new agrarian policy, which, instead of supporting unsustainable, energy-intensive industrial production and monocultures without farmers, promotes biodiverse and low-input ecological production with farmers, in the framework of Food Sovereignty

The demonstration continued to DG Research, also at Square de Meeûs, that via so-called European Technology Platforms like “Plants for the Future” give industry a direct say in how research funds are being spent. This works strongly in favour of large biotech multinationals. The demonstration ended with songs, talks and performances at Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European Parliament.

The first stop of the tour was the European Seeds Association (ESA) in Rue du Luxembourg, a lobby group representing the interests of large seed firms like Bayer, Dow, Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. The biotech and pesticides corporations are represented via many lobby associations, including also EuropaBio, the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), Croplife and ILSI (International Life Sciences Institute).The second stop took place at the offices of Bayer at Square de Meeûs, where demonstrators where reminded that such big biotech corporations historically developed in the chemical and warfare industry, an important fact to understand their vision of agriculture as an industry. A petition with more than 58,000 signatories was then handed over to Members of the European Parliament, Isabelle Durant, Marc Tarabella and Kriton Arsenis. These took the signatures in three wheelbarrows to the European Parliament building.Jürgen Holzapfel stressed the demands of the seed campaign: "We insist on the right to resow seeds from our own harvest for purpose of propagation and further distribution. Furthermore, we wish to see support of locally adapted varieties by promotion of conservation of heritage varieties and breeding improved varieties for organic and bio-diverse agriculture. We demand a new method of seed certification, which excludes GMO or chemical and energy intensive varieties."MEP Tarabella called for a full inquiry into the consequences of proposed EU seed legislation reform.The demonstrators demanded:• The right of all farmers to save seeds from their own harvest, to re-sow, distribute & sell them• the promotion of diversity in all regions by supporting farmers and breeders of varieties that can be re-sown;• the prohibition of GMOs in agriculture and in all European foodstuffs• the prohibition of patents on plants and animals, their traits and genes, as well as patents on breeding methods;• a new agrarian policy, which, instead of supporting unsustainable, energy-intensive industrial production and monocultures without farmers, promotes biodiverse and low-input ecological production with farmers, in the framework of Food SovereigntyThe demonstration continued to DG Research, also at Square de Meeûs, that via so-called European Technology Platforms like “Plants for the Future” give industry a direct say in how research funds are being spent. This works strongly in favour of large biotech multinationals. The demonstration ended with songs, talks and performances at Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European Parliament.
 

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.

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.

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.

 
 
 
 
 
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The corporate lobby tour