FAO suffers 'corporate capture' by pesticide, fertiliser firms

  ROME – The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has undergone “corporate capture” by accepting under its Chinese director general, Qu Dongyu, large scale funding from multinationals from the pesticide and fertiliser industries including the Russian Fertiliser company PhosAgro, which made a contribution to the UN agency of dlrs 1.2 million, a new study funded by the EU argues.

 “The FAO partnership impacts report from 2019 includes a list of the top 15 voluntary contributions from institutional resource partners, which includes … PhosAgro,” says the research report, entitled “FAO: Industry’s deepening influence on Global Food Governance.

 “The website of PhosAgro … informs that PhosAgro has been participating in FAO’s Global Soil Partnership and in the development of the International Code of Conduct for Sustainable Use and Management of Fertilizers and states a contribution of dlrs 150,000 to the organisation – without referring to the much bigger contribution registered in the FAO partnership impact report,” says the report produced by the NGOs Corporate Accountability and FIAN International, with contributions by PAN International.

 The total FAO budget planned for 2022-2023 is dlrs 3.25 billion, of which 31 percent comes from assessed contributions by member countries, while 69 percent is expected to be mobilized through voluntary contributions from members and other partners, the report, published in May, says.

 “Despite such a large percentage of the FAO’s budget coming from voluntary contributions that include private sector funding, the FAO provides very little publicly available information that details the financial relationships that exist with the private sector and corporate donors,” the report continues.

 However the 2017\2018 partnership impact report included CropLife international as part of its list of top contributors at approximately dlrs 2.6 million.

 In December 2021 over 187,300 people from 107 countries submitted a global petition urging an immediate end to FAO’s partnership with CropLife.

 “The FAO’s agreement with CropLife threatens the FAO’s integrity, credibility, impartiality, independence and neutrality, undermines FAO’s priority of reducing reliance on pesticides and its commitment to agroecology, and is incompatible with FAO’s obligations to uphold human rights such as the rights to adequatye food, health, clean water, safe working conditions and a clean, healthy and sustainable environment,” says the report.

 FAO engagement with CropLife International gives additional space for pesticide and GM seed manufacturers to promote more aggressively their harmful products.

 -- CLI member company Bayer played a key role in Thailand’s decision to overturn an earlier ban on the cancer-causing glyphosate. Communications between US government officials and Thailand were largely scripted and pushed by Bayer.

 -- CLI member Syngenta consistently refused to modify its deadly weedkiller formula of paraquat, claiming it was safe… as a result hundreds of people, especially in the Global South, continue to use and die from paraquat poisoning.

 -- Bayer exerted enormous pressue against Mexico upon the Presidential decree to phase out glyphosate and GMOs.

 In March, the FAO signed a MoU with the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to strengthen their partnership and increase public-private collaboration.

 The membership of the ICC’s individual chapters is highly secretive. “The ICC is tied to some of the world’s most abusive corporations implicated in human rights violations including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Dow and Coca-Cola," the report adds.

 The ICC also has a partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) through the ICC Agri-Food Hub, the report adds.