Action 2023

Spotlight action against agribusiness lobbies. The “Forum for the Future of Agriculture” blocked by activists this morning in Brussels

28 March 2023 – Mont des Arts, Brussels

On the 28th of March 2023, more than a hundred people from the “No future for agribusiness” collective have been blocking the entrances to the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA), the annual get together of agribusiness in Brussels, organised by chemical giant Syngenta, the European large landowners’ lobby ELO and other multinationals such as Pepsico, Nestlé and John Deere. The activists denounce the hypocrisy of the organisers, who present their event as the convergence of the environment and agriculture, all the while fighting hard against new EU environmental legislation.

Shortly before the opening of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA), several groups of activists managed to tie themselves to concrete-filled suitcases and a chain of bicycles, preventing access to SQUARE Brussels’ Convention Centre. Their action denounced the intense lobbying by the FFA organisers to delay any EU regulation arising from the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy. Among the invited speakers are EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius and Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.  According to Camille, the activists’ spokesperson, “By inviting high-level political representatives, agribusiness multinationals are trying to shape a European legal framework that guarantees their privileged position. Today we are blocking their attempted lobbying and greenwashing activities as they obstruct any attempt to transform our food systems towards more sustainability. Syngenta, whose CEO also chairs Croplife, the pesticide producers’ lobby group, for example has fiercely opposed any EU proposals that aim to reduce pesticide use. That they still dare to organise this kind of greenwashing is cynical beyond belief. »

Syngenta’s activities have been critized by several Belgian organisations, including the NGO SOS Faim, because, like Bayer and BASF, it continues to produce pesticides in Europe that are banned for sale within Europe itself because of their danger to health and biodiversity, but then exports them to countries in the Global South, where people and the environment suffer the consequences [1]. Rather than adhering to the scientific discourse that alerts us of the impact pesticides have on biodiversity and our health [2], the FFA organisers propose solutions for a so-called “sustainable” agriculture that have long been criticised by civil society and farmers’ movements.

Among the solutions highlighted in the FFA’s programme is carbon offsetting. This so-called solution is condemned by civil society, among which 257 organisations who see it as a license to continue polluting whilst increasing corporate control over the land on which communities in the Global South depend to deploy carbon capture projects [3]. According to Camille, “Agribusiness is not the solution to agriculture, it is the problem. Farmers are already building a sustainable and nourishing agriculture. They show us that an agroecological model, less dependent on oil, the agrochemical industry, and their poison is possible and enviable. They are the ones that European leaders must listen to, support, and strengthen. »