1.Greenpeace parody highlights conflict within Commission between industry profits and science
2.[Mock letter from] EuropaGMO
3.European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) - A few facts behind the myths
4.EFB's press release
5.Greenpeace appeals to EU to reject use of 2 new biotech corn products - Associated Press
EXTRACT: 'The EFB is a front for companies like Monsanto. This lobby group is obviously trying to mask commercial interest with dubious scientific credentials. We expect the EU Commission to see through the sham and treat them as an ordinary industry pressure group.'
NOTE: Seems Greenpeace spoilt the European Federation of Biotechnology's party today (Wednesday).
The pro-GM lobby group had planned to lobby the European Commission with a media stunt involving the handing over of an Open Letter to Commissioner Dimas in support of the approval of two GM maize crops Dimas doesn't want the Commission to licence.
The media were told (item 4) that the letter would be handed over at the EU Commission head quarters by a 'group of Europe's leading scientists' - for which read, such well known GM lobbyists as Klaus Ammann and Marc Van Montagu, President of the EFB.
Unfortunately for the EFB, Greenpeace showed up too with a parody lobbyists' letter (item 2) and a highly revealing fact sheet for the journalists present on the real character of the EFB (item 3).
Ammann and Van Montagu, we hear, were far from amused, and the resulting coverage lead more on the Greenpeace protest than the EFB's media stunt (item 5).
1.Greenpeace parody highlights conflict within Commission between industry profits and science
Brussels, 28 November 2007 -- Greenpeace is today staging a parody protest outside the EU Commission's Berlaymont headquarters, posing as lobbyists for companies that produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and are trying to get them approved for sale and planting in Europe.
Over the coming days, European Commissioners are expected to vote on a proposal from Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to refuse EU authorisation for two genetically modified varieties of maize, because they are toxic to certain butterfly species and pose a threat to other insects and soil health. The two new maize varieties are produced by agrochemical firms Syngenta and Pioneer/Dow, and are designed to kill insect pests.
Recent research has shown that toxin-producing GM plants can have a range of unexpected effects, from harming beneficial insects, to contaminating streams and poisoning aquatic life. These findings show that growing the GMOs for which the biotech industry is seeking EU authorisation could entail considerable environmental damage.
Current EU legislation requires the European Commission to apply the precautionary principle and take various aspects relevant to GMO plants into account, when deciding on GMO authorisations, such as new scientific evidence and social factors.
Public opinion polls constantly show that most Europeans oppose the presence of GMOs in the food chain and in the environment. A majority of EU member states have also repeatedly expressed opposition to GMOs. Yet, the European Commission constantly authorises them, with the keen backing of the US government.
'Behind our parody is a serious call for greater transparency. We are protesting about the disproportionate influence of the GMO industry in certain Commission departments. Industry lobby-groups such as the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and EuropaBio, which represent the interests of agrochemical companies, have 'excellent working relations' with the Commission,' explained Marco Contiero of Greenpeace. 'We call on the European Commission to stop listening to the powerful biotech lobby and support Commissioner Dimas' call to refuse authorisation for the two pesticide-producing GM maize.'
As with all parodies, the performance by Greenpeace projects a dangerous truth. This is confirmed today by the public lobbying activity of the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB), a pro-GMO lobbying organisation promoting the use of biotechnology in Europe and defending GMO industry interests. Among its members are Monsanto, Bayer, the American Biotechnology Industry Organisation and the German Association of Biotech Companies: hardly a collection of independent scientists.
'The EFB is a front for companies like Monsanto. This lobby group is obviously trying to mask commercial interest with dubious scientific credentials. We expect the EU Commission to see through the sham and treat them as an ordinary industry pressure group,' added Contiero.
Marco Contiero , Greenpeace European Unit, GE Policy Director
+32 2 2741906, Mobile: 0032-477777034.
For Photos, contact John Novis, Greenpeace International Picture Desk,
+44 207 865 8230
For Video, contact Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video producer, 0031 646197322
2.[Mock letter from] EuropaGMO
Dear President Barroso and fellow Members of the European Commission,
We in the GMO industry would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to those of you who are doing a fine job lobbying on our behalf within the Commission. We thank you for sweeping under the carpet pesky new scientific evidence that shows our GMOs to pose a threat and for promoting our interests while ignoring EU legislation on the environment. We should like to single out for special recognition Commissioners Mandelson, Verheugen and Fischer Boel, who have been most supportive in promoting GMOs in Europe, whistling to our tune and ignoring public opinion. Christmas hampers all round!
We must say that we are less pleased with Commissioner Dimas, whose insistence on invoking EU law and unearthing new research is proving most unhelpful. His forthcoming proposal that two GM maize varieties should not be authorised in Europe because of concerns for their environmental impact is most inconvenient. Who needs precautionary principles when you can get mutant maize that produces its own insecticide? Not us. This fuss about harms to butterflies and beneficial insects is namby-pamby nonsense. Aquatic organisms? Insects? Soil organisms? Zap 'em, that's what we say. And why not zap Mr Dimas too, while you're at it? He’s getting in our way.
We at Monsanto, Dow, Pioneer, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta are in the business of selling chemicals. As such, any regulation that interferes with our core business is most unwelcome, as you know. That’s why we are so proud of the excellent working relationship we have built with the EU Commission, and count on you to dismiss Mr Dimas’ proposal when you will come to vote on it, as well as any other scientific advice that casts doubt on the safety of GMOs. Our mutual friends in Washington will of course expect the same of you.
It’s quite simple: just stick your fingers in your ears and hum loudly whenever anyone - independent scientists, the European Parliament, NGOs, member states dares to question the value of pursuing pro-GM policies and investing research money in a technology which has singularly failed to deliver in agriculture. Keep on humming if they mention the irreversible land contamination that will result from planting GMOs, or the increased use of herbicides on farms that grow GM crops. What do they know? Far better to let the biotech industry decide on issues affecting public welfare, food safety and the future of farming. Finally, we don't want to miss this opportunity to offer a hearty slap on the back to the wonderful European Food Safety Authority, which never fails to give our products the thumbs-up! Love and hugs to all our pals in Parma.
3.European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB): A few facts behind the myths
* Established by European scientists in 1978, the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) is Europe's non-profit federation of National Biotechnology Associations, Learned Societies, Universities, Scientific Institutes, Biotech Companies and individual biotechnologists working to promote Biotechnology throughout Europe and beyond. (http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Main/why_join)
* The EFB has claimed to be a 'voluntary association of European non-profit-making scientific and technical societies active in the field of biotechnology' but this is misleading because it has an extensive corporate membership of around 100 Public and Private Companies with direct biotech interests. These include firms as big as Monsanto Europe.(http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Members/public_and_private_companies)
* It also has a number of National Bio-industry Associations as members, including the US industry's major trade association - BIO: the Biotechnology Industry Organization.(http://www.efbweb.org/who/natbio.htm) and Association of German Biotech Companies (VBU), (http://www.v-b-u.org/), whose member is also Bayer.
* EFB's advocates that they maintain good contacts with and serve in an advisory capacity to the European Commission (http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Main/why_join).
* Its president is Marc Van Montagu who is presented as a public scientist - Emeritus Professor at Ghent University, Belgium - who's interested in helping the developing world but he has had significant longstanding commercial interests in the uptake of GM crops worldwide. (http://www.ipbo.rug.ac.be/aboutus/mvm.html) He founded the biotech company Plant Genetic Systems Inc. in 1982, of which he was Scientific Director and member of the board of Directors. PGS Inc. was regarded as one of Europe's most successful biotech companies in the early days of biotech and went on to be bought in 1996 by the German multinational AgrEvo/Hoechst which was later incorporated into Aventis which, in turn, was taken over by Bayer. Van Montagu was also involved in founding the biotech company CropDesign, of which he was a Board member from 1998 to 2004. CropDesign was recently acquired by BASF Plant Science. He links to several other lobby groups for biotech, including PRRI.( http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/forums/viewthread/20/)
* Several members of their Board have direct links with GM industry. Few examples:
Klaus Ammann: He sits on steering committees for Gensuisse, a GM promotion group funded by the pharmaceutical industry body Interpharma Internutrition - a promotion group for GM foods. It has in its working group representatives from the food industry (e.g. Nestlé) as well as chemical/GM companies Monsanto, Hoffmann LaRoche, DuPont, and Syngenta. Ammann is co-editor of the Bio-Scope Frankfurt-Bern website, supported by GM industry group Europabio. He was an early and active supporter of the Public Research and Regulation Initiative (PRRI) which seeks to limit biosafety controls on GM crops. (http://www.gmwatch.org/profile1.asp?PrId=8&page=A )
Patrick Rüdelsheim Involved in various companies, in 1996 he became Global Head of Biotechnology Regulatory Affairs for the AgrEvo group. After the creation of Aventis S.A. by the merger of Hoechst and RhÃ´ne-Poulenc, he became Global Head Regulatory Affairs BioScience of Aventis CropScience and following the acquisition of Aventis CropScience by Bayer in 2002, he was confirmed in that position for Bayer CropScience. (http://www.efb-central.org/index.php/Members/profiles/31037 )
Marc Zabeau: Director Research of Plant Genetic Systems N.V. Gent, Belgium, has founded four biotech companies (Helix CV in Belgium, the agricultural biotech company KeyGene N.V. in Wageningen, The Netherlands, a human genetics biotech company GenScope Inc., and Methexis N.V. in Gent, Belgium). (http://www.epsoweb.org/Catalog/TP/docs/bio_zabeau.PDF )
David McConnell (Chairman, EAGLES Health Programme & EFB EAGLES Task Group, Co-Vice Chairman of EAGLES, Trinity College Dublin). The EFB funds the biotech lobby group EAGLES European Action on Global Life Sciences (www.efb-eagles.org). EAGLES perpetuates the biotech industry myth that GM technology will end world hunger and 'solve the problems of illness, starvation and environmental degradation'. EAGLES used its supposed concern for such humanitarian causes to seek EC funding from taxpayers in 2003. The request was turned down but EAGLES is applying for EC support once again. (http://www.gmfreeireland.org/mediawatch/index.php )
EUROPEAN scientists to hand Commissioner Dimas open letter warning against undermining science on Biotech crop approvals
European Federation of Biotechnology [via Agnet] Christian Suojanen
The European Federation of Biotechnology is the non-profit association of all national and cross-national Learned Societies, Universities, Institutes, Companies and Individuals interested in the promotion of Biotechnology throughout Europe and beyond.
The EFB invites you to witness the handing over of an Open Letter to Commissioner Dimas at the EU Commission head quarters the Berlaymont - in Brussels on Wednesday November 28th at 11:30.
A group of Europe's leading scientists will hand over the letter.
Photo opportunities and interviews
EU scientists on plant biotechnology
Handing over an Open Letter to Commissioner Dimas
Wednesday, November 28th, 2007
11:30 am (Brussels Time)
Berlaymont (Front Entrance)
Rue de la Loi
5.Greenpeace appeals to EU to reject use of 2 new biotech corn products
The Associated Press, November 28 2007 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/28/europe/EU-GEN-EU-Biotech-Greenpeace.php#end_main
BRUSSELS, Belgium: Greenpeace appealed to European Union officials Wednesday not to approve the use of two genetically modified corn crops.
The environmental group staged a protest at EU headquarters, arguing the crops pose a major risk to insects like butterflies and could damage local ecosystems.
Under heavy pressure from both industry and environmental groups, the EU's executive office is deliberating on whether to approve license applications for two biotech seeds for cultivation.
The products are the Bt-11 corn seed made by Switzerland's Syngenta AG and the corn 1507 product made by the U.S.-based Pioneer Hi-Bred and Dow Agrosciences.
Both varieties offer resistance to insects, including corn borers and certain butterfly species, and were deemed safe by the EU's food safety authority in 2005.
On Wednesday, Greenpeace activists called on EU executives to back EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas' preliminary conclusions not to approve the two products for use in the 27-nation bloc.
Opponents of the two products fear they could threaten population levels of much cherished butterflies, like the Monarch species, as well as other insects.
'The proposal of Mr. Dimas is based on hard science,' argued Marco Contiero from Greenpeace. He said Bt variety corn crops 'are harming the environment, having unexpected and unpredictable effects.'
Meanwhile, the European Federation of Biotechnology, a group of scientists and companies promoting the use of biotech crops, sent a letter to Dimas backing the products.
'GMOs are absolutely needed, there is no danger for health. No danger to the environment has been demonstrated,' said Marc Van Montagu, who heads the group.
He rejected claims that the two GM seeds threaten insects other than those that try to feed off the crops during cultivation.
'There are no studies where scientists agree ... that butterflies die,' Montagu said.
EU spokesman Johannes Laitenberger told reporters the approval was still under consideration by the European Commission's executive, which remains deeply divided on the issue. Unanimous backing is needed to approve the licenses.
The issue poses a headache for the Commission, which is trying to force reluctant EU governments to drop some national GM crop bans, amid increasing global pressure by Europe's trade partners.
The World Trade Organization has backed claims by the United States, Canada and others that a previous de facto moratorium on the use of GMO products in Europe is an unfair trade barrier.
EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel warned European farm ministers this week that continuing biotech bans could risk future supplies of cereals to farmers, threatening the supply of animal feed for Europe's pork, beef and chicken sectors.