FFA: Greenwashing by pesticide corporations in the heart of Europe
On 15 March in Brussels, pesticide multinational Syngenta, landowner lobby ELO, and a number of agribusiness players (Cargill, Nestlé, Pepsico, John Deere, etc.) are organising the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA).
Under the guise of an open dialogue between agriculture and the environment, a major lobbying and greenwashing operation is underway. As is the case every year, the FFA is a prime opportunity for agribusiness to push its false solutions (digitalisation of agriculture, pesticides, new GMOs, financialisation of agriculture, carbon markets, etc.), to bolster its position in the food system, and to enhance its political influence through speakers and guests from the European institutions. Confirmed keynote speakers include the Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides.
Since the adoption of the Green Deal, agribusiness has stepped up its efforts to lobby European politicians. This has included a series of coordinated attacks on the goals of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. These lobbying tactics have been exposed and condemned by a broad civil society coalition: “we strongly condemn the coordinated efforts of some industrial agri-food lobbies to discredit, delay, and weaken the Farm to Fork Strategy. The tactics deployed by these actors amount to disinformation and scaremongering and must be exposed as such“.
This edition of the FFA comes at the right time for the agrochemical industry. The European Commission is putting the finishing touches on its pesticide reduction targets. A proposal is expected by the end of March. Syngenta and its lobby group CropLife Europe are working hard to head off legislation that will reduce demand for their products and hurt their profits. CropLife (chaired by Syngenta CEO Erik Fyrwald) and other agribusiness lobbies have directly funded impact studies to discredit the pesticide reduction goals of the Farm to Fork strategy. It has also organised several media events to give wide coverage to the results of its studies and other biased research, which threaten a catastrophic decline in European agricultural production.
It is also known that Syngenta and other agrotoxic producers are particularly concerned by calls to ban the export of highly hazardous pesticides. Since the publication of an investigation by Public Eye and Unearthed, which revealed that more than 81,000 tonnes of pesticides banned for use in Europe were still being produced and exported to developing and emerging countries, public pressure has been mounting on the industry to end these practices, which are dangerous to the environment and the health of local populations. France has adopted a law banning the production and export of these pesticides and intends to use its rotating presidency to advance the issue at a European level. This is clearly unacceptable to Syngenta and other agrochemical companies who make huge profits from this lucrative trade.
Therefore, we are joining with a coalition of organisations to mobilise against the FFA.
We oppose the staging of a greenwashing event to strengthen the influence of the chemical and agrifood industry in the design of public policies. We cannot stand by and watch European politicians cosying up to Syngenta and its corporate cronies when it should be preparing a fair and ambitious policy to reduce pesticides – a policy that we are all crying out for. Recently, 1.2 million European citizens signed the petition to “Save Bees and Farmers!”, in which they called for an 80% reduction in synthetic pesticides by 2030, a phasing out of synthetic pesticides in Europe by 2035, and strong support for farmers in their transition to agroecology.
We condemn the anti-democratic manoeuvring of agribusiness to impose its agenda and its products, without regard for the health, environment and working conditions of all people, in Europe and in the global South. These tactics undermine the efforts of social movements and civil society to bring about a truly democratic and inclusive governance of food systems and the realisation of human rights.
It is also regrettable that environmental NGOs, such as WWF and The Nature Conservancy, are participating in this event. They give agribusiness corporations a free pass to claim to be responsive to environmental issues, while they plunder nature and destroy our farms.
#NoFFA! No Future for Agribusiness, No Future for Agrotoxics!
We are in the process of making a transition to fair, sustainable, democratic and community-based food systems. To ensure decent living conditions for farmers in the North and the South, access to healthy and nutritious food, and agricultural practices that protect nature, we support agroecology, smallholder farming, and food sovereignty, which challenge the paradigms and solutions promoted by the agrifood industry. To achieve these goals, the people who actually work the fields must be the first to be asked about the future of their sector and their profession, not multinationals proposing solutions based solely on their economic interests. A forum on agriculture that does not put farmers and their supporters at the centre of the debate has no legitimacy. We will make our presence felt on 15 March.
- ECVC – European Coordination Via Campesina (Europe)
- URGENCI (Europe)
- Club of Rome (International)
- FIAN European sections (Europe)
- Friends of the Earth Europe (Europe)
- Corporate Europe Observatory (Europe)
- ONG PAEDD (Africa)
- GRAIN (International)
- Society for International Development (International)
- Extinction Rebellion (International)
- FUGEA (Belgium)
- Boerenforum (Belgium)
- Mouvement d’Action Paysanne (Belgium)
- Le Réseau des GASAP (Belgium)
- Entraide et Fraternité (Belgium)
- Fabriek paysanne (Belgium)
- Autre Terre (Belgium)
- SOS Faim (Belgium)
- le Début des Haricots (Belgium)
- Brigades d’Actions Paysannes (Belgium)
- Les Amis de la Terre-Belgique (Belgium)
- Wervel (Belgium)
- Quinoa asbl (Belgium)
- vzw Climaxi (Belgium)
- Rencontre des Continents asbl (Belgium)
- ‘t Fruitratje (Belgium)
- asbl Vivre… S (Belgium)
- SCI Projets Internationaux (Belgium)
- Fian Belgium (Belgium)
- Schola Campesina APS (Italy)
- Grands Parents pour le Climat (Belgium)
- Navdanya International (Italiy)
- Initiative pour le Développement Agricole et Rural (Mali)
- FENAB (Senegal)
- Ratan Sarkar (Bengladesh)
- Right to Food South Asia (Bengladesh)
- Dibeen for Environmental Development (Jordan)
- The Oakland Institute (United States)
- Association Yelemani pour la promotion de la souveraineté alimentaire (Burkina)
- National Family Farm Coalition (United States)
- Toekomstboeren (La Via Campesina Netherlands)
- Maurice Ouma Odhiambo (Kenya)
- AdeD (Benin)
- Li Mestère ASBL (Belgium)
- Association For Promotion Sustainable Development (India)
- Libère Terre/Ferme Arc en Ciel (Belgium)
- Youth For Climate (Belgium)
- Agora Association (Turkey)
- Collectif 5C (Belgium)
- KPRI (Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia /Confederation of Indonesian People Movement) (Indonesia)
- ZCCN – Zambia Climate Change Network (Zambia)
- Mazingira Institute (Kenya)
- Landbouwbrigades (Belgium)
- Water Justice and Gender (Netherlands)
- SUYADER (Turkey)
- BEES coop (Belgium)
- Iles de Paix (Belgium)
- ULB-SONYA (Belgium)
- Agroecology in Action (Belgium)
- Association pour la Conservation et la Protection des Ecosystèmes des Lacs et l’Agriculture Durable (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
- Viva Salud (Belgium)
- Jamaa Resource Initiatives (Kenya)
- Netwerk ter bevordering van Biocyclische-Veganlandbouw in Nederland en Vlaanderen (Netherlands)
- Extinction Rebellion (Belgium)
- POUR écrire la liberté (Belgium)
- BUND Bezirksgruppe Schönberg (Germany)
- Champs des Possibles #Cultures en Résistance (Belgium)
- As Bean (Belgium)