Corporations and multinationals have ethical codes of conduct for a reason: bad behaviour can put a company out of business. In cases of misconduct, investors, consumers and communities can abandon them in a heartbeat. Corporate Europe Observatory, a Brussels-based anti-industry, anti-trade NGO has no published ethical code of conduct. Their recent bad behaviour and failures are costing them funding, followers and respect. Although this pack of hyenas had lost the moral right to operate years ago, it seems quite probable they will cease operations in a couple years.
How did this happen?
There have been a series of campaign failures that have risen up to bite this neo-Marxist band of charlatans in the face. Irrelevant reports, ridiculous campaigns, missed events, hypocrisy and unethical activities have not gone unnoticed. Funding is drying up, interest is waning and a string of campaign failures is hurting the organisation. Without public respect this hateful assault group is skating on very thin ice.
After a decade of steadily increasing funds, 2018 saw a 16% drop in Corporate Europe Observatory fundraising grants compared to 2017. It would have been much worse were it not for a generous, one-off donation from a private individual.
What should worry Corporate Europe Observatory activists is that most of their revenue over the last ten years have come from the same sources (Middle-Eastern anti-industry industrialists, Dutch investment bankers, J.P. Getty heiresses, Quakers, German Catholic bishops, George Soros and public funding redistributors like their mother-organisation, TNI). Even though Corporate Europe Observatory seems willing to take money from anyone, times are getting tough. With no new sources of funding and significant declines in contributions from their long-standing Sugar Daddies, I would expect many CEO activists to start working on their CVs (if they are not already).
Asleep at the Wheel
But this begs the question: Why should anyone give money to these layabouts? Last Friday, 28 June 2019, the European Commission announced a free-trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur (comprising four Latin American countries: Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay). The EU had been very public on the progress in these trade talks throughout June, but somehow not a word was published on Corporate Europe Observatory’s website.
For a group founded to obstruct global trade agreements and one that had invested so much in trying to stop TTIP and CETA, it seems hard to imagine they were not at all concerned with a free-trade agreement that would allow more Argentine GM soy and maize to enter the European food chain, more rain-forest destruction and a means to legitimise the regime of, gulp, Jair Bolsonaro. Not a peep though was heard from Corporate Europe Observatory suggesting their activists were asleep at the wheel (or already on holidays in the South of France).
On their “EU Trade Deals” section, the last article or report CEO published was in February, and it was on TTIP … two years after Trump scrapped the talks. Talk about pointless and irrelevant (unless the NGO is merely anti-American).
Or maybe Corporate Europe Observatory had more important research reports to publish. On the day of the EU-Mercosur trade deal, CEO released their latest exposé on EFSA, over alleged conflicts of interest on their gene technology working group. What did CEO’s deep-dive research reveal? Did they find EFSA in collusion with Monsanto researchers? Maybe some evil genius paid by the chemical industry? Hardly – the headline “gotcha” was only that two researchers were associated with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I wish I were making this up.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done more to find a solution for malaria and have provided more vaccines in Africa than most governments combined, and because they support an organisation that promotes science-based solutions in Africa, Corporate Europe Observatory has tried to discredit scientists working with them. The other “corporation” the report implicates is Oxitec (Oxford Insect Technologies), a research start-up out of Oxford University seeking novel means to stop the spread of Zika, dengue and malaria. Now Oxitec is not even involved in the EFSA working group, but two of the scientists have financial interests in the organisation. Sweet Jesus, Mother of Murphy, what sort of moron would consider this report worth publishing?
The Corporate Europe Observatory hack-job on EFSA was written by Martin Pigeon, an activist with an unhealthy obsession with all things EFSA, GMOs and anything that might help the European Union become more research and innovation driven. Martin’s poor judgement is legendary but in this case, Pigeon had nothing at all, zilch, and so he embarrassed CEO’s reputation by pretending the drop in the share-price of the key investor in Oxitec was proof the gene technology did not work. Proof perhaps that Marxists don’t understand markets but even more proof that Martin’s salary at CEO could hardly be considered as value for money.
So perhaps CEO just needed a bit more time over the weekend to catch up on the breaking Mercosur trade-deal news. The news story today (1 July 2019) is seeking to expose industry lobbying work to defend titanium dioxide. This is Corporate Europe Observatory’s third article in a year on titanium dioxide so it must be a serious risk to consumers.
Well … No!
No serious scientific organisation outside of IARC (the International Agency for Research on Cancer) considers titanium dioxide as hazardous (where have we seen this game before?). And even that would only be an issue if the substance were inhaled in powder form and not if used in toothpastes, cosmetics or paints.
So the CEO story, filled with half-truths and innuendo, is on how much industry has had to spend to defend a widely-used, harmless consumer product. The fact that industry has to conduct costly, needless research (eventually paid by the consumer) because of ridiculous campaigns by groups like … Corporate Europe Observatory is not lost on the Risk-Monger. I haven’t seen anything this stupid since the European Commission was forced into a box by (again) CEO’s Martin Pigeon over acrylamide (yes, your toast and cookies might give you cancer if you eat several tonnes of them … per day).
No wonder CEO funders are keeping their wallets shut.
Hypocrisy and Unethical Behaviour
Groups like Corporate Europe Observatory play dirty tricks, personally attack individuals and, like any Machiavellians, will do anything to win. This includes buying journalists. They did this with Stéphane Horel, whom they paid as a researcher for another of their pointless assaults on EFSA until, that is, the report was published, and then she became a “freelance journalist” who co-authored the report.
Even a simple research fee of €10,000 to a journalist could pay the rent for a year and be used to extract media favours and influence far beyond the research period. How many journalists have CEO bought? They will never disclose that. Any corporation with an ethical code of conduct would never tolerate such disgraceful behaviour, but activist groups like Corporate Europe Observatory have no such codes. They can buy journalists, lie, personally attack individuals, destroy property and disrupt business activities and then even gloat about it. This though is starting to weigh heavily on the trusts and foundations paying the salaries of these lamentable little lobby-louts.
One point that is unclear to any outsider is how an organisation like CEO, that is founded to stop secret lobbying of the European Commission and backroom deal-making would spend so much of their time, well, secretly lobbying the European Commission.
Let’s take (again) the public face of CEO, Martin Pigeon. He will go on the assault if any lobbyist dares to meet European officials to present their interests. For example Corporate Europe Observatory’s LobbyFacts website (a real waste of their funders’ money) lists Burson, Cohn and Wolfe (ex Burson-Marsteller), with 48 accredited lobbyists, as having had six lobbying meetings with European officials in 2018. In the same period, CEO’s Martin Pigeon had at least 42 lobbying meetings with EU officials. And this was only reluctantly disclosed when he testified in the European Parliament (again as part of his little EFSA witch-hunt). The hypocrisy and sanctimony here is stunning and begs the question: Does CEO believe in anything at all?
Perhaps the most unethical aspect that has undermined the credibility of Corporate Europe Observatory is their continuous double standards (ie, hypocrisy). More than 25% of this transparency-focused NGO’s funds come from the Isvara Foundation (operating with zero transparency out of a Swiss bank) and yet they demand transparency from others. Their researchers do not have to declare for whom they are working when they contact target organisations (CEO even condones them pretending to be journalists). And the worst hypocrisy of all was when Martin Pigeon was not transparent when he contracted a conflicted scientist, Chris Portier, to read-through EFSA documents knowing full well this work for CEO was bought and paid for by US tort law-firms seeking to profit from Monsanto litigation. Not only should Martin have declared this … CEO should have thought twice before selling their souls to big US corporate law firms (but hey, I guess the money’s good).
In the end, for Corporate Europe Observatory, it is all about the money. They’ll take what they can get, from whomever is handing it out. They’ll do whatever their funders tell them to. And then, with straight faces, they will viciously attack anyone working with money they can’t have. I suppose it is fitting then, for these tweed-vested Marxists, that when their money runs out, the rats will leave the kitchen.
No one will miss these horrid people when they’re gone.