NOTE: This new report by Andy Rowell of SpinWatch focuses, amongst other Members of the European Parliament, on John Purvis - the leading Conservative MEP promoting biotech in the European Parliament (see item 2 for examples).

Purvis, as the report notes, has a number of significant financial interests in the biotech (item 3), nuclear and financial sectors.

1.Are MEPs too close to business, asks new report
2.John Purvis: lobbying for GMOs?
3.John Purvis: investing in industry
1.Are MEPs too close to business, asks new report
SpinWatch, 17 July 2008

Europe's leaders are sleepwalking into the issue of MEPs links with commercial interests, warns a new report launched today by SpinWatch.

The report, Too Close for Comfort? investigates potential conflicts of interest of some MEPs, including:

MEPs who accept paid work and hospitality from businesses with a vested interest in their legislative work MEPs with a financial interest in industries they promote
MEPs who are in key legislative positions for example, chairing parliamentary committees while at the same time being involved with powerful business lobby groups.

The report argues that these potential conflicts of interest demand the attention of Europe's leaders, more so than the recent scandals involving MEP's expenses.

Too Close for Comfort? profiles 12 MEPs from the UK, Germany, France, Finland and Romania. Their activities are seen as illustrative of these potential conflicts of interest but are not deemed extraordinary. They include:

*John Purvis MEP, whose financial interests include being a partner in a firm that invests in the biotechnology sector, and at the same time has been seen as a leading advocate of biotech in the European Parliament.

*Klaus-Heiner Lehne MEP, who sits on Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee and has been involved in European patent legislation while retaining his position as a Partner at a law firm that advises clients on patents.

*Giles Chichester MEP, who was Chair of the parliamentary committee with responsibility for key nuclear issues at the same time as he was President of a pro-nuclear industry lobby group.

*Eija-Riitta Korhola, a vocal pro-nuclear MEP, whose euro-election campaign accepted money from a company with nuclear interests.

Too Close for Comfort? forms part of the ongoing debate in Brussels on lobbying and transparency. It prompts urgent questions about current parliamentary rules governing MEP's outside interests, and asks if changes are needed to these rules to restore public trust in Europe's leaders.

For a copy of Too Close for Comfort? (PDF) or to interview its author, please contact Tamasin Cave on: 07973 424 015 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alternatively, the report will be available to download from from 17th July 2008.

SpinWatch is a UK-based, non-profit making organisation that monitors the role of public relations, spin and lobbying in society. For more information visit:
2.John Purvis: lobbying for GMOs?
Selection of items by GM Watch

*Title: Report on the Future of the Biotechnology Industry
Author: Rappoteur: John Purvis, Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, European Parliament

*The debate focused on a report by Scottish MEP John Purvis, which calls for the Commission to take action against obstructions by national governments to the authorisation of GM products. Many of those supporting Mr Purvis' report highlighted the economic benefits to supporting the biotechnology industry. (Biotechnology debate heats up)

*[Greenpeace's opposition to GMOs] raised the ire of John Purvis, Member of the European Parliament. His fury and frustration were palpable as he took the microphone to have the last word of the evening. The efforts made by the European Parliament and European agro-industry to find a middle ground with Greenpeace had been a 'waste of time', Purivs said, since Greenpeace insisted on returning to its truculent uncompromising stance. (Can we afford to pay?)

*The statement, drafted by British Conservative John Purvis and approved by a majority of EU deputies attending the assembly in Strasbourg, said the parliament "resolved to support the development of biotechnology in the European Union". But the assembly deleted a paragraph... which would have been a direct attack on the EU freeze on granting new GM licences. (EU parliament voices support for biotechnology)

*The EU-backed 'Plants for the Future' Technology Platform officially released its full and final Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) at a lunch hosted by MEPs Giles Chichester and John Purvis in the European Parliament in Brussels. ('Plants for the Future' invites Europe to reap fruits of knowledge-based bio-economy)

*John Purvis (PPE-DE). When is the Commission going to base all its decisions on the scientific research that his department is executing and to counter the public opinion that militates against the use of GMs, that is disadvantageous for our farming community and indeed for the cost of food, and is negative for the economy of Europe? (European food policy: Debate with intervention from John Purvis MEP)
3.John Purvis: investing in industry

extracted from the report:
TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT? MEPs, corporate links and potential conflicts of interest

John Purvis is one of two Scottish Conservative MEPs. He is the Vice Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and substitute member for the Industry, Research and Energy Committee. During his time as an MEP, he has had a number of financial interests in the nuclear, biotech and financial sectors.

Benefiting from Biotech?

Purvis's outside interests include being a partner in the firm Life Science Capital LLP,
which invests in the biotechnology sector. It is run by his son-in-law, Tom Daniel, who is the controlling interest in the firm.27 Daniel also runs the parent company Life Science Capital Management Limited, which is incorporated in the Cayman Islands.28

Purvis has long supported the biotechnology sector in Parliament and has been seen as leading on the issue for the Conservatives.29 In 2001, he was the main Rapporteur for an own-initiative report on the future of the biotechnology industry. 30 In 2002, Purvis hit out at the "Luddite obstruction" against biotech, saying it was "high time" for biotech industries to be promoted.31 In 2005, Purvis hosted a dinner debate at the European Parliament on "The role of biotech in the Lisbon Process" for EuropaBio, a lobby group for the biotech industry in Europe.32 In 2007, Purvis again co-hosted a EuropaBio event to launch the 'Plants for the Future' Technology Platform, a 'forum for the plant sector' initiated and supported by the European Commission and dominated by industry. The Platform's report called on Europe to use plant sciences and biotechnology to enhance EU
competitiveness and welfare.33

Purvis's press spokesperson defends his biotech interests: "John has been a Rapporteur for the biotech industry [sic] in Europe at the Parliament so it obvious that it is something he is extremely interested in. He makes no apology about being in the industry himself."34
Download the report