5th ALTER-EU newsletter
This fifth newsletter carries a lot of news from the ALTER-EU network, with presentations of two newly-joined groups – Combat Monsanto (in both French and English) and Earth Open Source, action alerts from 4 signatories, and an announcement for our upcoming annual assembly, on 13 and 14 October.
This will take the form of a conference with a wide range of interesting speakers from both sides of the Atlantic, who will make the case for how corporations affect the public interest and suggest ways in which this power can be curbed. There will also be workshops on the impacts of corporate power on addressing pressing issues like climate change, financial reform, peace initiatives and access to medicines, which will give member groups the opportunity to take stock of the current situation and actively contribute to drawing up new plans for joint action. This is urgent, as environmental, social, and consumer protection have been second-rate considerations in EU decision-making for too long.
Please find the draft programme attached (it might still be subject to minor changes), and register via http://www.alter-eu.org/alter-eu-conference.
As in previous editions of the ALTER-EU newsletter, we've asked two recently joined organisations, Combat Monsanto and Earth Open Source, to tell us a bit about themselves / to answer a few questions:
Why they joined ALTER-EU;
How they see their role in relation to other members;
And what they see as examples of urgently needed progress on social, environmental and consumer-protection reforms that have been postponed, weakened or even blocked as a result of influence exerted by corporate lobbyists.
Combat Monsanto (EN)
Combat Monsanto is a French association whose mission is to report objectively and in detail the non-transparent and systemic behaviour (for example government infiltration, intimidation of scientists, or misleading advertising) that have given Monsanto its bad international reputation for social and environmental responsibility. We often notice other corporations using such practices to gain market share.
Combat Monsanto also seeks to disseminate transparent information to citizens, to raise collective awareness of the socio-economic and ecological consequences of genetically modified crops, as well as the impact of the massive use of pesticides on health and the environment. (The information is published in three languages on: www.combat-monsanto.org).
The survey by Marie Monique Robin, 'The World According to Monsanto', published in 2008, has highlighted the importance of conflicts of interest and "revolving doors" in issues related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the United States. The "revolving door" has facilitated the introduction of GMOs in the U.S. (the first country to allow GMOs) and in the rest of the world.
This year Combat Monsanto has focused on monitoring conflicts of interest and secret links between members of evaluation and approval agencies and agrochemical companies. With this in mind, Combat Monsanto would like to join ALTER-EU to participate in the exchange of information on these subjects on a European level, and benefit from the experience of other associations in this field.
Combat Monsanto can bring its knowledge of Monsanto's "system", which is unfortunately a real example of multinationals' covert activities and lobbying.
Combat Monsanto (FR)
L’association Combat Monsanto s’est donnée pour mission de dénoncer de manière objective et argumentée les agissements opaques et systématisés (infiltration des administrations, intimidation des scientifiques, publicité mensongère...) qui ont fait la mauvaise réputation internationale de Monsanto en matière de responsabilité sociale et environnementale. Comportements que l'on retrouve chez de nombreuses multinationales pour s'imposer sur les marchés.
Notre organisation cherche aussi à diffuser une information citoyenne et transparente afin de favoriser une prise de conscience collective de l’impact socio-économique et écologique du passage aux cultures transgéniques, ainsi que de l’impact de l’usage massif de pesticides sur la santé et l’environnement. (L’information est diffusée en trois langues sur notre site www.combat-monsanto.org).
L’enquête de Marie Monique Robin, le monde selon Monsanto, parue en 2008, a bien mis en évidence l’importance des conflits d’intérêts et «des revolving doors» dans le dossier OGM aux Etats-Unis. Ces «portes tournantes» ont facilité l’introduction des OGM aux Etats Unis (premier pays à autoriser les OGM) et dans le reste du monde.
Combat Monsanto a engagé cette année un travail de veille approfondie sur les conflits d’intérêts et liens souterrains entre les membres des agences d’évaluation et les firmes de l’agrochimie. Dans le cadre de cette démarche, l’association a souhaité adhérer à Alter-EU pour participer aux travaux et échanges d’informations européens sur le sujet et bénéficier de l’expérience des associations du réseau dans ce domaine.
Combat Monsanto pourra apporter sa connaissance du « dispositif » Monsanto, qui constitue hélas un véritable exemple en matière de lobby et d’activités occultes des multinationales.
Earth Open Source (EOS)
We strongly believe that increasing transparency in lobbying is key to restoring many democratic rights that are currently being undermined by corporate influence. Many of the current abuses would not survive if they were opened up to public scrutiny.
We collaborate frequently with other organisations, make use of their expertise, and share information with them. In our experience, working together is the most effective way to get things moving. We hope that joining ALTER-EU will accelerate this collaborative movement.
We have found that the regulatory processes for genetically modified foods and pesticides are heavily influenced by corporate lobbying. We’ve produced several reports on these issues. The influence of corporations on regulatory processes compromises scientific integrity and places public health and environmental quality at risk. Currently, we are attempting to preserve the rigour of the new, democratically established pesticide regulation, which is being watered down by corporate lobbying.
For more information, visit: http://www.earthopensource.org/.
Action alerts from ALTER-EU signatories:
- Our Dutch signatory 'Health Action International' (HAI) Europe invites you to attend: 'Mad Medicine: Do conflicts of interest drive you crazy?' to take a closer look at the conflicts of interest that persist in the world of psychiatric medicines research, practice and policy.
Where and when? At the University College Cork in Cork, Ireland, on Saturday, September 24, 2011
Registration is free of charge but needs to be completed in advance by the 12 September, 2011, to guarantee your place. Please contact Lorraine (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, affiliation and contact details.
- The French ALTER-EU signatory 'Adéquations' would like to share the following website (http://www.reseau-etal.org/) that documents the actions and information of the ETAL ('l'Encadrement et la Transparence des Activités de Lobbying') network in which it operates nationally, which will be updated later this month.
- A British signatory of ALTER-EU, 'Baby Milk Action' calls on the ALTER-EU membership to endorse their statement on conflicts of interest and policy setting, which can be found via the following link: http://info.babymilkaction.org/node/458.
- 'Access Info Europe', a Spanish signatory of ALTER-EU, needs your help as the Council of the European Union is challenging the pro-transparency ruling of the General Court of the European Union (a case won by Access Info Europe on 22 March 2011). This ALTER-EU signatory is concerned that a reversal of this ruling will permit greater "policy laundering" by EU Member States and has launched a campaign on July 27 calling on Member States to come out clearly in favour of open decision making. You can contribute by making one of the following actions: