European Parliament’s Industry Committee Close to Endorsing Immediate Moratorium on Fracking, Showing Political Support for Shale Gas Is Waning

Brussels – Food & Water Europe is thrilled that the European Parliament’s Industry, Research & Energy Committee just about endorsed an immediate moratorium on fracking in the EU in a close vote – 30 in favour and 30 against – on one of the amendments to the report of MEP Saudargas about an ‘European Energy Security Strategy’. Coming just one vote short shows that the public acceptance of shale gas among Members of the European Parliament is crumbling, as the evidence about the negative environmental impacts of fracking is mounting. With an online letter writing campaign, Food & Water Europe enabled European citizens to call on their newly elected Members of the European Parliament to take a strong stance against fracking. These efforts clearly paid off, as half of the Industry Committee members voted in favour of amendment 366, which reads as follows:

16 a. On the basis of the precautionary principle and on the principle that preventive action should be taken, taking into account the risks and the negative climate, environmental and health impacts involved in hydraulic fracturing for the exploitation of unconventional fracking and the gaps identified in the EU regulatory regime for shale gas activities, urges Member States not to authorise any new unconventional hydraulic fracturing operations in the EU

“Today’s vote in the Industry Committee shows that there is a growing concern among Members of the European Parliament about the negative impacts of fracking,” said Food & Water Europe Director of EU Affairs Geert Decock. “This close vote – just one vote short of a majority – should send a message to the European Commission that shale gas has no place in the EU energy mix. Now is the time to further reduce our gas consumption by investing in renewables and energy efficiency.”

The final version of the Saudargas report offers strong support for “developing smart grids”, “continued support for the construction of nearly zero-energy buildings” and draws attention to the need for “moderation of energy demand, in particular energy demand used for heating”. All these measures – if given strong support – will dramatically decrease the EU’s gas consumption, reduce the EU’s reliance on foreign gas suppliers and make the supposed ‘need’ for shale gas in the EU obsolete.

Contact: Geert De Cock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)

TTIP and Genetically Engineered Foods


Common Resources

Get the endnotes in the .pdf

In 2013, the United States and the European Union (EU) began negotiations to create the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). The trade relationship across the Atlantic is already the number one economic relationship in the world, making up a third of all trade in goods and services and about half of global economic output. Both the United States and EU claim that a new trade agreement with the EU would enhance job creation and competitiveness by eliminating trade barriers and harmonising regulations — but the real winners would be big biotech and food companies, at the expense of consumers and the environment.


Corporate Control in Animal Science Research


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Corporate agribusinesses depend on favourable science to gain regulatory approval or market acceptance of products such as new animal drugs, and they depend on academic journals to deliver this science. To secure favourable scientific reviews, industry groups play an enormous role in the production of scientific literature, authoring journal articles, funding academic research and also serving as editors, sponsors or directors of scientific journals where much of their research is published.

Deep-pocketed corporations often have no counterpoint in the scientific literature. No group of scientists or science funders is, for example, aggressively investigating the safety or efficacy of new animal drugs, or examining alternatives. The influence that industry now wields over every aspect of the scientific discourse has allowed companies to commercialise potentially unsafe animal drugs with virtually no independent scrutiny.

Find out what needs to be done in the report, Corporate Control in Animal Science Research.

New Report: For-Profit Animal Science Undermines Safe Food, Trade

Brussels and Washington, D.C.— A new report (.pdf) published today by Food & Water Europe exposes the enormous influence that corporate drug companies play in the peer-reviewed science surrounding risky veterinary drugs widely used in the United States but forbidden in the EU. The U.S. approach of allowing the marketplace to determine the safety of risky veterinary drugs rather than independent science—as was the case with the beef cattle growth-promoter Zilmax, which was removed from the U.S. market in 2013—makes any move toward regulatory “harmony” via an EU-U.S. trade agreement a serious threat to safety of the EU food system.

Food & Water Europe EU Food Policy Analyst Eve Mitchell said, “It’s clear that some favourable safety findings on the drugs widely used to produce food are effectively bought and paid for by the companies that stand to profit. The cornerstones of the scientific method, like independent replication of findings, simply aren’t being honoured, and many U.S. farmers are giving their animals questionable drugs every day because of it. This is not the kind of food production we want or need, yet a trans-Atlantic trade deal will reinforce these safety problems for everyone.”

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a vast trade deal under negotiation between the U.S. and EU. Highly controversial topics like genetically modified (GM) food and hormone treatments in meat animals have all but stalled progress of TTIP, which was supposed to conclude negotiations later this year. “Governments on both sides insist neither regulatory system will be eroded by TTIP and that food safety will continue to be guaranteed, but today’s report shows safety isn’t even clear now,” says Mitchell.

A major problem is with the scientific journals that publish the studies. Industry groups play an enormous role in the production of scientific literature, authoring journal articles, funding academic research and also serving as editors, sponsors or directors of the same scientific journals where much of their research is published.

Mitchell said, “It’s not just a matter of EU and U.S. regulators agreeing that their counterparts consulted the science and concluded drugs are safe when that science is comprised. Now, consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are being asked to place our faith in “harmonised’ approval systems.”

“This report documents the problems in animal science research, but the same weak disclosure rules, industry influence and lack of independent research appears to pervade much of agricultural research, from GMOs to cloning to herbicides. It’s huge.”

Mitchell added, “There’s a lot of talk about ‘free trade” out there, especially when in comes to TTIP, but it’s full of holes. To function properly, genuinely free markets rely on complete information available to all, and this report shows how deep the disclosure problem goes. The EU is not immune to these problems.”

Food & Water Europe calls on scientific journals to disclose the funding sources for papers they publish and says the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also needs to do more to ensure the research it uses to determine the safety of products in the food chain has been thoroughly and independently assessed.

Mitchell concluded, “The merits of EFSA’s ongoing project on openness and transparency will be called into question unless it does more to ensure it is not relying on for-profit science. EFSA should publish the authorship affiliations and funding sources of the science it consults. Some large portion of the science EFSA consults is likely to have been biased by industry authorship and funding, but the public can’t see where this happens. This has to change.”

Read For Profit Animal Science Undermines Safe Food Trade:

Contact: Eve Mitchell, Food & Water Europe (UK time), +44(0)1381 610 740, [email protected]

European Commission Shale Gas Research Conference

Brussels — Today’s event, organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, fails to ask the question whether or not shale gas should be developed at all in Europe, according to Food & Water Europe. Instead, the Commission assumes future large-scale development of shale gas in the EU as its starting point, exploring how research and certain policies can facilitate its extraction.

Together with many anti-fracking groups across the EU, Food & Water Europe strongly rejects this point of departure and firmly believes that the emerging body of research about the negative climate, environmental and public health impacts of fracking makes an urgent case for a ban on fracking. In the ‘make or break’ year of the Paris climate summit, it is unacceptable that the link between climate change and unconventional fossil fuels like shale gas is not even mentioned on the conference programme.

“A conference about shale gas research that does not engage with the pressing question of whether or not such unconventional fossil fuels are compatible with science-based climate targets starts with a false premise,” said Food & Water Europe Director of EU Affairs Geert Decock, “An emerging body of research has started to document the negative climate, but also environmental and public health, impacts of fracking, which the Commission fails to properly engage with”.

Contact: Geert De Cock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.

Energy Union Drops Idea of Communication on Promoting Domestic (Shale Gas) Energy Sources

Brussels — Food & Water Europe welcomes that the European Commission dropped the idea of a “Communication on promoting domestic resources — including progress on shale gas”, which was announced by Commissioner Arias Cañete two weeks ago during the Latvian presidency conference on the Energy Union in Riga.

The weak emphasis on shale gas and other unconventional fossil fuels in the Communication reflects a growing realisation inside the European Commission — following a series of disappointing experiences with fracking — that this potential fossil fuel resource is unlikely to address any of the EU’s energy challenges: import dependency, decarbonisation, technological leadership, green jobs, etc. The Energy Union Communication now called shale gas “an option, provided that issues of public acceptance and environmental impact are adequately addressed”.

“Finally, the Commission is turning away from echoing the hype about shale gas, promoted by Big Oil & Gas,” said Food & Water Europe Director of EU Affairs Geert Decock, “One year ago, its Communication on shale gas projected that 10 percent of EU energy demand in 2035 could come from shale gas. Now, shale gas is just ‘an option’, with a number of important caveats about environmental impacts and public acceptance”.

Contact: Geert De Cock tel. +32 (0)2 893 10 45, mobile +32 (0)484 629.491, gdecock(at)