Agrochemical and pesticide giants like Bayer and BASF are pushing for weaker action on harmful chemicals and climate goals
EXCERPT from full article: DeSmog’s investigation found industry giants such as Bayer, BASF, and Corteva have made significant efforts to lobby the EU and its decision-makers in the wake of announcements about the Green Deal and other policies. Others that have been active in pushing for the EU to continue to allow the use of certain controversial chemicals, include CropLife Europe and The Glyphosate Renewal Group. As DeSmog’s research has found, these companies have had input in the policy-making process through a wide range of means, including through their membership of expert and advisory groups that give input on new European policies, sponsorship of events attended by EU officials and other decision-makers, meetings with EU officials, and sponsorship of EU focused-media and events.
Mapped: The network of powerful agribusiness groups lobbying to water down the EU’s sustainable farming targets
By Daniela De Lorenzo and Rachel Sherrington
DeSmog, Dec 9, 2021
[excerpt only; full article plus links to sources and illustrations at this URL]
* Agrochemical and pesticide giants like Bayer and BASF are pushing for weaker action on harmful chemicals and climate goals.
In February 2021, German agribusiness giant BASF hosted a virtual wine tasting, a seemingly cozy affair swirling glasses of Portugal’s finest in front of a webcam debating the future of EU agricultural policies. Invited to the event was a small group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
The MEPs invited were spoiled for choice, as BASF generously delivered six small bottles of fine wines for their enjoyment. Like many corporations, the global COVID-19 pandemic and lack of usual in-person events meant they had to get creative about how to shape the political debate and find new allies to support their agendas.
BASF’s wine tasting is just one example of many such pandemic-style lobbying efforts by the European agriculture industry since the EU has attempted to pass sweeping new policies to combat climate change through measures included in its “Green Deal,” first presented in December 2019.
Since then, leading industry associations and agrochemical companies have used their lobbying might to push back against core European measures aiming to lead the transition to a more sustainable way of farming. These companies are connected through their various trade group memberships, and have deployed many tools — from networking events to lawsuits — in order to counter Europe’s push to phase-out pesticides and reduce fertilizer use.
To identify the powerful actors most actively lobbying against these key EU regulations and policies, DeSmog analysed corporate reports, lobbying records, official position papers, responses to public EU consultations, media events, and meetings held with various EU bodies over the past two years. DeSmog also spoke to sources from within the EU and related civil society groups as part of our analysis.
The research identified 14 companies and trade bodies that had pushed back against EU environmental and agrochemicals policy in recent years. Industry representatives had hundreds of meetings across European Commission and European Parliament committees and commissions that work on agriculture, environment, food, and chemical safety between 2019 and October 2021. This includes 13 entities registered as official lobbyists via the EU’s Transparency Register. These groups spent at least a combined €45.9 million on lobbying in 2019 and 2020, according to the latest available data on their lobbying spending from official EU data.
DeSmog’s analysis considered lobbying to include any activities perceived as a means of gaining influence or access to political decision making processes, including but not exclusively limited to activities captured under the EU lobbying transparency register.
Environmentalists fear that this seemingly coordinated agribusiness lobbying may weaken regulations aimed at limiting the use of agrichemicals and potentially delay the ban of companies’ patented pesticides — which many experts say are harmful to the environment and human health — while they burnish their corporate reputations by hiding behind the narrative of supporting farmers.
These companies, DeSmog found, are also pushing for lowering corporate and institutional transparency and accountability standards in order to keep their communications with European bodies and scientific centers a secret.
Responding to DeSmog’s findings, Natacha Cingotti, senior health and chemicals policy officer at Brussels-based policy and advocacy group, Health and Environmental Alliance (HEAL), said: “[W]hen working on chemicals- and pesticides-related policies, the imbalance of stakeholders in favour of industry interests is striking.”
“Under the current regulatory system and the related stakeholder consultation processes,” Cingotti continued, “it is a fact that the dominating actors are those very companies that are set to profit from the sale of harmful chemicals, not those who stand for health and environment protection.”