MEPs withdraw access after the Company shunned a hearing into allegations that it unduly influenced studies into the safety of glyphosate used in its RoundUp weedkiller
Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference.
It’s the first time MEPs have used new rules to draw parliamentary access for companies that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or hearings.
Monsanto officials will be unable to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or use digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg.
Even though a process still needs to be worked through, a spokesman for the parliament’s president Antonio Tajani explained that the leaders of all major blocks had backed the ban in a vote.
“One has to assume it is effective immediately,” he said.
MEPs had been incensed at a Monsanto decision to ditch a hearing organised by the environment and agriculture committees, with professors, regulators and campaigners, on 11 October.
The assembly is expected to hear allegations that Monsanto unduly influenced regulatory studies into the safety of glyphosate, an integral ingredient in its best-selling RoundUp weedkiller.
“Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament,” said the Green party president Philippe Lamberts. “US corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this.”
The lobby ban is going to be a bitter blow to Monsanto’s advocacy campaign before a decision later this year concerning the relicensing of glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer by one expert WHO panel.
A Monsanto letter to MEPs seen by the Guardian said that the European parliament wasn’t “an appropriate forum” for discussion on the issues involved.
“The joint hearing could be viewed as the latest attempt by those opposed to modern agricultural practices to influence and frustrate the EU scientific and regulatory process to suit their own agenda,” it states.
“We have observed with increasing alarm the politicisation of the EU procedure on the renewal of glyphosate,” wrote Monsanto’s vice president Philip Miller, “a procedure which should be scientific but which in many respects has been hijacked by populism.”
Martin Pigeon, a spokesman for the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory, said it was “extremely important that parliament has been prepared to meet Monsanto’s unbelievable arrogance with real retaliation and consequences.”
Monsanto spends between $300,000-$400,000 (#260,000 – #350,000) annually on lobbying in Brussels, according to its self-declaration form in the EU transparency register.