Official complaint on Monsanto non-compliance with EU transparency rules

Corporate Europe Observatory has just submitted a complaint on Monsanto to the EU's Joint Transparency Register Secretariat, denouncing the pesticide manufacturer’s non-compliance with EU transparency rules.

Agribusiness giant Monsanto has been reported to authorities for making incomplete and misleading declarations in the EU Transparency Register. The company’s failure to meet EU transparency requirements is the latest in a series of scandals involving Monsanto, which have come to light as the lobby battle around the re-authorisation of Monsanto’s flagship product glyphosate has intensified. On Thursday, EU member states will vote on the European Commission's proposal to re-authorise the controversial pesticide for another five years.

Corporate Europe Observatory’s complaint focuses on Monsanto's obvious and substantial underreporting of the amount of money it spends on activities covered by the EU Transparency Register. While the company declares to have spent less than €400,000 in 2016 seeking to influence the EU institutions, transparency declarations by other organisations show that Monsanto has spent at least €910,000 – for the services of four lobby consultancies alone.

It is expected that Monsanto’s true lobby expenditure will be even higher, once membership fees paid to trade associations and similar bodies lobbying on the company's behalf have been accounted for.

Included in the complaint is also a note on Monsanto’s failure to list any of the organisations representing its interests. Beyond the lobby consultancies and trade associations that lobby on its behalf, Monsanto's entry also omits any connection with the Glyphosate Task Force - a main player in the ongoing lobby battle surrounding the re-authorisation of glyphosate.

Corporate Europe Observatory’s transparency campaigner Margarida Silva said:

“The fact that even lobby actors as big as Monsanto seem to get away with inaccurate and incomplete transparency declarations shows the weakness of the current register. To make a meaningful change and address these blindspots, the ongoing reform of the EU transparency register must facilitate stricter monitoring and data checks and introduce sanctions for non-compliance.

“For now, the EU institutions have rejected the idea of a lobby register that makes registrants legally liable for the data they declare. But ultimately, we will need such a legally-binding tool to really hold lobby actors to account.”

Notes to editors

  • Find the complaint text in full here (complaints are limited to 4,000 characters)

  • The Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) itself is not even registered as a lobby actor in the EU transparency register at all, although lobby consultancy Hume Brophy declared to have received at least €100,000 in client payments from GTF in 2016. The complaint does cover this issue, which is, highlighted in more detail in a separate alert that has likewise been submitted to the EU's Joint Transparency Register Secretariat.

  • The consultancies that list Monsanto in their most up-to-date entries as a client are:

    • Hume Brophy, for whom Monsanto generated revenue between €100,000 - €199,999

    • Interel European Affairs, for whom Monsanto generated revenue between €10,000 -€24,999

    • Fleishman Hillard, for whom Monsanto generated revenue between €700,000 - €799,999

    • Red Flag, for whom Monsanto generated revenue between €100,000 - €199,999

  • In addition to the amounts above, Monsanto’s membership fees to the following registered organisations defending its interests must also be taken into account:

    • European Seed Association

    • European Crop Protection Association

    • EuropaBio

    • European Biostimulants Industry Council


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