Has the pesticide lobby resorted to a “blackmail for false employment” to try to obtain the repeal of a legislative measure aimed at prohibiting the production of ultratoxic pesticides on French soil? The question is raised by four organizations: Transparency International, Foodwatch, the Veblen Institute and Friends of the Earth. Tuesday, February 21, they made a report to the High Authority for the transparency of public life (HATVP) and to the ethics committees of the National Assembly and the Senate on a possible breach of the French professional union of pesticide manufacturers, Phyteis (formerly UIPP).
Like parliamentarians, lobbyists are subject to ethical obligations. Article 18-5 of the law on the transparency of public life provides that interest representatives must “to refrain from obtaining or attempting to obtain information or decisions by deliberately communicating [aux parlementaires] erroneous information or by resorting to maneuvers intended to deceive them”. In other words, they have no right to deliberately lie to their “targets” in order to “manipulate” them in order to obtain votes in favor of the interests they defend.
For the associations at the origin of the report, this is what the UIPP did in 2019 to oppose an article of the law on agriculture and food (Egalim) of October 30, 2018. Its Article 83 provides for the prohibition, from 2022, of the production, on French soil, of pesticides banned from use in Europe, sometimes for more than ten years because of their danger to health and the environment, but that the agrochemical giants continue to produce for export mainly to developing countries. This commercial practice, which the United Nations describes as“odious”earns hundreds of millions of euros each year for industry leaders Bayer, Syngenta and BASF.
Convince the government and the legislator
As revealed The world in January 2020, the UIPP then carried out intense lobbying, up to the top of the State, in order to obtain the repeal of this article. Main argument put forward to convince the government and the legislator to backtrack: employment. “The economic and social impact in France of this measure will be extremely significant, with more than 2,700 jobs directly affected at our nineteen production sites spread across the entire territory”warn the signatories – including the bosses of the French entities of Bayer, Syngenta and BASF – of a letter sent to the Prime Minister, a few days after the promulgation of the law.
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