Industrial farming lobby threatens funds for agriculture's sustainability
Brussels, 26 June 2012 - The future of agricultural research under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Horizon 2020 is under threat according to a new analysis by Corporate Europe Observatory, published today (Tuesday) .
The analysis, Agribusiness CAPturing EU research money? finds that much-needed research on a sustainable future for Europe's agriculture risks being deprioritised, despite the green claims made by EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, because of pressure from the agribusiness lobby, including the biotechnology, pesticides and food industries.
Agribusiness lobbyists - who outnumber other voices by four to one according to figures in the EU transparency register  - are pushing the Commission to direct the €4.5 billion research budget towards more environmentally damaging intensive approaches based on the "bioeconomy" which uses plant material for food, fuel and other products .
The report claims that the agribusiness lobby clearly benefits from greater resources, as well as greater access to decision makers in the EU Commission and Parliament, allowing them to easily dominate the agenda as far as visions for the future of agriculture are concerned.
A final decision on the CAP and Horizon 2020, the two texts which will determine the future of the agriculture research budget, is expected in late 2012/early 2013.
Martin Pigeon, a researcher with Corporate Europe Observatory, said:
“The agroindustry looks set to capture the lion's share of the EU's research funding for agriculture at a time when public intervention is vital to develop alternative approaches and preserve Europe's ecosystems from further degradation. The EU's research funding proposals as they stand will actually increase the amount of money given to big business - despite the damage current intensive practices cause to the environment, and despite the costs society pays to remedy this. This corporate capture of the EU's research funding must be stopped.”
 Agribusiness CAPturing EU research money? Corporate Europe Observatory, June 2012 http://www.corporateeurope.org/publications/agribusiness-capturing-eu-research-money
 The data taken from the transparency register can only be taken as providing an indication of some of the lobbyists active on the CAP as the register is voluntary and not all lobbyists are registered. What is more, many of those in the register appear to be under-estimating their lobby spend, so it is quite possible that agribusiness lobbyists outnumber and outspend others to a far greater extent.
 Under the current Horizon 2020 proposal there are several other funding opportunities available for "bioeconomy" initiatives, including for the biotechnology industry in particular.