Les lobbys plus forts que la démocratie ?

Ces lobbies qui influencent et manipulent notre vie quotidienne

Vidéo publiée le 19 octobre 2018 par C à dire.

Journaliste d’investigation et collaboratrice du journal Le Monde, Stéphane Horel enquête depuis plus de dix ans sur le lobbying et les conflits d’intérêts secouant la classe politique.

Stéphane Horel publie une enquête dont le titre fait froid dans le dos : “Lobbytomie” aux éditions La Découverte. Au fil de 400 pages, elle décrit comment les lobbys sont devenus des acteurs incontournables de la vie démocratique en dépit d’une quelconque légitimité électorale.

Ces lobbies qui influencent et manipulent notre vie quotidienne

Stéphane Horel, décortique les stratégies perverses des lobbies qui mettent en péril notre démocratie

Qu’il s’agisse de notre santé ou d’alimentation, les lobbies maintiennent parfois sur le marché des produits nocifs pour nous et profitable pour leur porte-monnaie.

Stéphane Horel publie une enquête dont le titre fait froid dans le dos : “Lobbytomie” aux éditions La Découverte. Au fil de 400 pages, elle décrit comment les lobbys sont devenus des acteurs incontournables de la vie démocratique en dépit d’une quelconque légitimité électorale.

Glyphosate : perturbateur européen ?

Stéphane Horel et Yves Bertheau sont les invités de “Dimanche, et après ?”, octobre 2017

Par Raphaël Bourgois, via france culture.

Le débat européen autour du glyphosate met en lumière un ensemble complexe de rapports de forces entre différents acteurs. Au-delà de la question environnementale et sanitaire, ce sont les relations qu’entretiennent science, industrie et politique qui doivent être questionnées.

En Savoir Plus

An Investigation
  1. The Manufacture of a Lie.
  2. A Denial of the State of the Science.
  3. The Interference of the United States.
  4. The Discreet but Major Gift to the Pesticides Lobby.

Monsanto Papers, la saga continue …

Stéphane Horel, Stéphane Foucart et Nadine Lauverjat sont les invités de “cause à effets”, octobre 2017

Par Aurélie Luneau, via france culture.

À l’heure où la controverse sur le glyphosate soulève débats et questions de santé de publique, en Europe, et que les témoignages de victimes s’accumulent, que nous réservent encore les Monsanto Papers ?

En Savoir Plus

Les leviers d’influence des lobbies : déstabiliser les chercheurs et semer le doute

La guerre médiatique contre la bonne recherche scienctifique, expliquée par Stéphane Horel

Stéphane Horel, journaliste Le Monde et spécialiste des lobbies raconte comment Monsanto mène une guerre médiatique contre la science.

En Savoir Plus

    • Le recours à des auteurs fantômes : de quoi s’agit-il ?
    • La pratique du “ghostwriting” dans la recherche biomédicale, sciencepresse, 7 mai 2011.
    • “Monsanto papers”, désinformation organisée autour du glyphosate, Le Monde, 03/10/2017.
    • “Monsanto papers” : des dérives inadmissibles, Le Monde, 04/10/2017.
    • “Monsanto papers”, les agences sous l’influence de la firme, Le Monde, 05/10/2017.
    • Glyphosate : ce qu’il faut retenir des révélations liées aux “Monsanto Papers”, sciencesetavenir, 05/10/2017.
    • Glyphosate : Monsanto tente une dernière manœuvre pour sauver le Roundup, Le Monde, 18.10.2017.
    • La Commission européenne souhaite prolonger la licence du glyphosate pour cinq à sept ans, Le Monde, 24.10.2017.
    • « Cher décideur », la lettre des industriels en faveur du glyphosate, Le Monde, 25.10.2017.

 

Le recours à des auteurs fantômes : de quoi s’agit-il ?

La pratique du “ghostwriting” expliquée par Stéphane Horel

Stéphane Horel, co-auteure de l’enquête du journal Le Monde raconte comment Monsanto a manipulé l’information scientifique autour du glyphosate.

  • La pratique du “ghostwriting” dans la recherche biomédicale, sciencepresse, 7 mai 2011.
  • “Monsanto papers”, désinformation organisée autour du glyphosate, Le Monde, 03/10/2017.
  • “Monsanto papers” : des dérives inadmissibles, Le Monde, 04/10/2017.
  • “Monsanto papers”, les agences sous l’influence de la firme, Le Monde, 05/10/2017.
  • Glyphosate : ce qu’il faut retenir des révélations liées aux “Monsanto Papers”, sciencesetavenir, 05/10/2017.
  • Glyphosate : Monsanto tente une dernière manœuvre pour sauver le Roundup, Le Monde, 18.10.2017.
  • La Commission européenne souhaite prolonger la licence du glyphosate pour cinq à sept ans, Le Monde, 24.10.2017.
  • « Cher décideur », la lettre des industriels en faveur du glyphosate, Le Monde, 25.10.2017.

Cette histoire de fantôme démasqué me rappelle Les Aventures de Saturnin, série télévisée française diffusée de 1965 à 1970 sur la première chaîne de l’ORTF…

Que penser de la décision prise à Bruxelles pour tenter de définir les perturbateurs endocriniens ?

“On a franchi un pas significatif”… “On est dans une dynamique”…
~Patrick Levy~ , Médecin-Conseil de l’Union des Industries Chimiques

Votée hier par les Etats de l’UE, la définition des perturbateurs endocriniens hésite encore entre soumission aux lobbys et protection des populations européennes.

Source : Questions sur les perturbateurs endocriniens après leur vote européen, France Inter, Le téléphone sonne du mercredi 5 juillet 2017.

Les invités de l’émission LE TÉLÉPHONE SONNE

  • Stéphane Horel
    journaliste indépendante, documentariste
  • Pascal Durand
    Vice-président du groupe Verts-ALE au Parlement européen. Ancien avocat.
  • Patrick Levy
    Médecin-Conseil de l’Union des Industries Chimiques.

Quelques Tweets

Endocrine Disruptors: The Discreet but Major Gift to the Pesticides Lobby

The European Commission submited its proposal for regulation of chemical substances on 21.12.2016

This article by Stéphane Horel was originally published by Le Monde on December 20. This translated version published by EDC-Free Europe.  This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Image thecvopros.

It’s a paragraph that does not look like anything, added at the bottom of the document at the last minute. In a tortuous and impenetrable formulation, it refers to a derogation for products acting on the “moulting and / or growth of harmful organisms”. But, reformulated in common language, it is no more or less a concession from the European Commission to the pesticide lobby.

A few days before Christmas, Wednesday 21 December, three years late, the Commission is due to submit to a vote its proposed regulation on endocrine disruptors, these ubiquitous chemicals capable of interfering with the hormonal system of living beings at sometimes tiny doses. This proposal is supposed to implement a very strict provision of the European regulation on pesticides: the ban on pesticides that will be recognized as endocrine disruptors.

It is therefore the criteria that allow them to be identified which the Commission has drawn up and which the representatives of the Member States must adopt or reject. The vote will be held in the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Safety after six months of negotiations.

If the devil is hiding in the details, the paragraph inserted by the Commission at the last minute is anything but anecdotal. While the “pesticides regulation” requires removing endocrine disruptors from the market, the paragraph creates a derogation from identification for a whole group of pesticides that have the particularity of … being endocrine disruptors. Indeed some pesticides wipe out insects or plants known as “pests” to crops by acting on their hormonal system to block their moulting or growth. In other words, these are pesticides that have been designed to be endocrine disruptors. Rather than using this knowledge to identify and prohibit them, the Commission proposes that they be spared.

Request from the trio BASF, Bayer and Syngenta

This major derogation is in fact an old request of the pesticide industry. It was developed by the trio of pesticide manufacturers who will be most affected by the regulation: the German giant BASF (the world leader in chemistry) and Bayer (being merged with Monsanto) and the Swiss group Syngenta. In a document dated 2013, employees of these groups argue for a “derogation” for what they refer to as “endocrine disruptors by design”:

Strictly speaking, such compounds would fulfil the endocrine disruptor definition as their endocrine mechanism and adverse population-relevant effects are intended and well-described.  (…) Consequently, an exemption category for these chemicals should be defined.. ”

The new paragraph resembles in an unmistakable way the article written by employees of pesticide manufacturers.

But the exemption is problematic for living beings, which could be affected by these endocrine disrupting pesticides, from plants to ladybugs, passing by nearby squirrels,  that is all those that the law calls “non-target organisms” but are also equipped with a hormonal system liable to be hijacked by these products.

Weed killer classified as “possible human carcinogen

While there is no assessment of the consequences of this clause on the ecosystem, it will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the industry. According to information gathered by Le Monde, this exception would correspond to about 15 insecticides and a handful of herbicides including 2,4-D, a herbicide that has also been classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015.

According to the calculations made by the NGO Générations futures, the derogation concerns more than 8 700 tonnes of commercial products per year, just for France. Francois Veillerette, the spokesperson of the NGO, is indignant:

“It is aberrant in a regulation that wants to remove endocrine disruptors to protect the ecosystem.”

This request doesn’t come from us but from the German authorities”, said Graeme Taylor, director of public affairs for the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA). The lobbying organization of the pesticide industry rejected the Commission’s proposal “as a whole”, considering that it “does not go far enough”.

Uncertain majority, proposal cut in half

Uncertain to get a majority on Wednesday, the European Commission cut off its contested proposal in two. The first scientific part contains an environmental component, including this new derogation, and a human health component, which is also the subject of strong criticism from the relevant scientific community, NGOs and certain Member States, including France.

They all denounced the inadequacy of the text to protect the population from diseases linked to exposure to endocrine disruptors (cancers, brain development problems, infertility, diabetes, etc.).

The second part of the proposal, on regulatory aspects, also contains a substantial derogation. If kept, the risks posed by endocrine disrupting pesticides would be assessed on a case-by-case basis after being placed on the market, whereas the law requires their a priori prohibition. This part is not only considered illegal by the European Parliament, NGOs and certain countries, but Le Monde revealed at the end of November, with supporting documents, that it was based on conclusions written in advance by an official European agency.

“These proposals are unacceptable and they do not respond to growing public concern or mobilization for genuine action that would reduce the presence of endocrine disruptors in our daily lives”,

said the coalition of NGOs EDC- Free Europe. An online petition from SumOfUs, calling to reject the proposal, has collected more than 260,000 signatures.

At the highest political level in Europe, where “good work” is considered to have been done, it is argued that there was a “scientific controversy” about endocrine disruptors to deal with. Yet a hundred respected scientists have warned decision-makers against a “manufacturing of doubt” financed by industries whose commercial interests are threatened, in the manner of the oil industry with climate change (Le Monde, November 30). Facts that a European official sweeps away, however, as “conspiracy theories”.

What happened on the 21.12.2016

MORE INFORMATION

The Investigation
    1. The Manufacture of a Lie.
    2. A Denial of the State of the Science.
    3. The Interference of the United States.
    4. The Discreet but Major Gift to the Pesticides Lobby.

 

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors: The Interference of the United States

Part 3 of 3 – Since 2013, the United States has been contesting by all means available the European regulation of these chemicals in the name of free trade

This article by Stéphane Horel was originally published by Le Monde on November 29. This version is translated by the Health and Environment Alliance and republished with permission on Environmental Health News first. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. “Spray” Image European Parliament.

The United States does not hide it. In some cases, they would like to write European law instead of leaving it to Europe. Among the cases: endocrine disruptors, these chemicals that are present in our everyday environment and capable of hijacking the hormonal system of living beings.

Since 2009, the European Commission has been working on the issue of their regulation. The topic is all the more sensitive as this regulation will be unprecedented, imposing new standards for the rest of the world. All trading partners who want to continue exporting their products to the EU, including the United States, will have to comply with them.

In highly technical documents, the American government expresses its position with unreserved criticism and requests that verge on political interference. Of particular note is this text, conveyed to the Commission on January 16, 2015, within the framework of a consultation on the various regulatory options envisaged. It says: “If the Commission were to be provided with evidence supporting an option not among (those) presented, would this be considered?

The question is convoluted but the implication is clear: the United States does not only propose rewriting the law but disputes the very principle of the regulation as far as endocrine disruptors are concerned.

The origin of the tension is the European regulation on pesticides of 2009. Very strict, it foresees a ban on pesticides that have endocrine disrupting properties. This principle of “hazard assessment” a priori antagonizes the U.S. government. “Implementation of any hazard-based ‘cut off’ option,” it writes, “could have severe implications for EU imports of U.S. agricultural goods.” Contrary to the political will of Europe, the U.S. government calls for a return to the traditional philosophy of “risk assessment,” which is undertaken a posteriori.

The United States does not only propose rewriting the law but disputes the very principle of the regulation as far as endocrine disruptors are concerned.

Above all, the Commission cites the opinion issued by one of its official agencies, the European Food Safety Authority, in 2013. This opinion is indeed the basis of its regulatory proposal. But the decision-making process began in 2009 and the “scientific knowledge” on endocrine disruptors has evolved considerably since then.

This U.S. pressure on the EU actually began in June 2013 at the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade. The U.S. representative shared the “concerns” of his government, but also those of its industry, which feared “significant and unwarranted dislocations in trade.”

In the months that followed, the American concern spread to another WTO committee specifically responsible for pesticides and food. The “aggressive and well-orchestrated attacks” are recorded in a European Commission internal note of August 2015 seen by Le Monde. No one can be mistaken, there is a threat of prosecution looming.

It is in these WTO committees that the question of non-compliance with “international sanitary and phytosanitary measures,” known as SPS, is raised.

A report in March 2016 says that Canada considers the regulation “only served to undermine international trade in agriculture and contravened the fundamental principle of the WTO SPS agreement, which was to base measures on scientific risk assessments and not to maintain them without scientific justification.” Indeed, the U.S. has brought other countries onto its side: by summer 2016, the heterogeneous alliance included more than twenty countries, including China, Togo and Jamaica.

Given that the proposal that causes so much bitterness was adopted in 2009, why did the U.S. wait until 2013 to complain about it within the framework of the WTO? Because 2013 was in fact a pivotal moment in the European decision-making process on endocrine disruptors. At the beginning of 2013, the Commission set on a very different path. Its Directorate-General (DG) for the Environment, which was leading on the dossier, had just proposed its chosen option.

Drawing on the classification used for carcinogenic chemicals, it would allow substances to be divided into two categories: ‘suspected’ or ‘known’ endocrine disruptors. This option is supported by the scientific community, non-governmental organizations and certain member states, including France, while industry is violently, and openly, opposed to it.

A lobbying blitzkrieg against it took place in June 2013. It was a letter from CropLife America, the lobbying organization for the U.S. pesticide industry, which first suggested to the U.S. authorities that they challenge the option with the help of WTO rules.

The U.S. Government should defend itself using the authority of the SPS Agreement under WTO if the EU pursues its proposed new regulatory regime …. without an approach based on risk assessment,” wrote CropLife America, May 10, 2013, to the office of the U.S. trade representative. The letter added: “CLA stands ready to provide supporting documentation.”

Surprisingly, the hostility of the U.S. and its allies has changed little while the position of the Commission has changed radically.

The option of DG Environment, which has since been divested of the file, was buried in July 2013. The new proposal from the Commission announced on June 15, 2016—even though it is judged very protective of the interests of companies—continues to satisfy neither the industry nor the critics at the WTO. A delegation of ambassadors to the EU came to the office of the European Commissioner for Health in July 2016 to express their discontent.

At the end of August, a final warning shot came via WTO. While Canada evoked a “negative, unnecessary and unjustified impact on trade,” the U.S. government continued to challenge the “soundness of the EU’s approach.” As “supporting documentation:” the letters of several industrial organizations including the American Chemistry Council and CropLife America.

MORE INFORMATION

The Investigation
    1. The Manufacture of a Lie.
    2. A Denial of the State of the Science.
    3. The Interference of the United States.
    4. The Discreet but Major Gift to the Pesticides Lobby.

 

 

 

Endocrine Disruptors

Endocrine Disruptors: A Denial of the State of the Science

Part 2 of 3 – The European Commission relies on studies financed by industry

This article by Stéphane Horel was originally published by Le Monde on November 29. This version is translated by the Health and Environment Alliance and republished with permission on Environmental Health News first. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. “Spray” Image Will Fuller.

The current scientific knowledge:” It is this that the European Commission assures it is using to justify its much criticized choices in the regulation of endocrine disruptors. Yet, the Endocrine Society, a major scholarly society, believes that the Commission “ignores [the] state of science.” How can such a hiatus be explained?

To document its considerations, the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, responsible for the file at the Commission, carried out an impact assessment of more than 400 pages, which was published in June after having been under lock and key as a state secret. To what specific “scientific knowledge” does it refer?

The decision-making process began in 2009 and the “scientific knowledge” on endocrine disruptors has evolved considerably since then.

Above all, the Commission cites the opinion issued by one of its official agencies, the European Food Safety Authority, in 2013. This opinion is indeed the basis of its regulatory proposal. But the decision-making process began in 2009 and the “scientific knowledge” on endocrine disruptors has evolved considerably since then.

The Endocrine Society produced a review of the science in 2015. It examined 1,322 publications that had been published since its last review, which was actually in 2009. Conclusion? They do not leave “any doubt that EDCs [endocrine disruptors] are contributing to increased chronic disease burdens related to obesity, diabetes mellitus, reproduction, thyroid, cancers, and neuroendocrine and neurodevelopmental functions.”

In 2013, some 20 researchers working for nearly two years under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) had reached similar conclusions. Their report sounded the alarm bell on a “global threat that needs to be resolved.

“Controversial interpretation”

These recent additions to “scientific knowledge” are indeed mentioned in the Commission’s impact assessment but disqualified on the basis that they do not deserve to be taken into consideration. “Evidence is scattered and its interpretation controversial,” the assessment report says, “so that a causal link or even a possible association between ED [endocrine disruptors] exposure at environmental levels and the diseases is not agreed among experts.”

In the wake of this damning reception, it reduces the Endocrine Society to a “stakeholder” who has issued a “statement.” As for the WHO/UNEP report, “scientific criticism to the general methodology used … was raised,” it indicates, citing a number of publications which it says show that the controversy “seems not resolved.” But what publications would be sufficiently authoritative as to be able to knock down the work carried out by the most respected specialists in the field?

Notably, the Commission’s negative comments are based on “critical comments,” published in 2014, challenging the methods and conclusions of the WHO/UNEP report. Among the ten authors of the comments, seven are working for two consulting companies, Exponent and Gradient Corp, which specialize in scientific issues and are known as “product-defense firms.”

But, most importantly, it was industry that sponsored the article through its lobbying organizations: the chemical sector with the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the American Chemistry Council and the pesticides sector with CropLife America, CropLife Canada, CropLife International and the European Crop Protection Association.

“Urban legend”

None of this can be unknown to the Commission services. Not only do these sponsors appear clearly in the declaration of interests at the end of the article, but industry itself sent it to them. Cefic sent it by e-mail to about 30 European officials involved in the case on March 17, 2014. In a message consulted by Le Monde, the industrialists explain that they have “commissioned a consortium of scientific experts to independently review the WHO-UNEP report,” fearing, in particular, that “despite its serious shortcomings it was being used to call for more precautionary chemicals policy.

Other publications cited in the impact study include a two-page article, one of whose signatories is a person better known for his role as a consultant to the tobacco industry than for his competence on this topic. Among its co-authors are toxicologists paid by the chemical, pesticides and plastic industries.

Another article has again two consultants out of the three authors and talks about endocrine disruptors as an “urban legend” posing “imaginary health risks.” Making fun of the “hypothetical” effects of endocrine disruptors, such as the “reduced penis length and size,” they pose the question of “whether the whole issue of EDC is more within the competence of Dr. Sigmund Freud than that of toxicology.”

Can these texts really be incorporated into “scientific knowledge?” Why does the Commission give so much credit to documents that resemble lobbying material?

In a momentous editorial published today [November 29, 2016] in Le Monde, independent scientists express concerns about a “distortion of the evidence by industrially sponsored actors.” Signed by a hundred experts from two very different fields – endocrine disruption and climate change – their text notes the “dangerous consequences for the health of people and the environment” of this strategy of “manufacturing of doubt.”

MORE INFORMATION

The Investigation
    1. The Manufacture of a Lie.
    2. A Denial of the State of the Science.
    3. The Interference of the United States.
    4. The Discreet but Major Gift to the Pesticides Lobby.

 

Endocrine Disruptors