Chemical giants guilty of “corrosive lobbying” in attempt to water down vital EU legislation

Press release - 4 May, 2006
Large chemicals firms representing private business interests have led a concerted push to undermine and destroy EU attempts to protect the public from hazardous chemicals, a Greenpeace report released today has revealed.

The report, 'Toxic Lobby: How the chemicals industry is trying to killREACH', describes how, in an attempt to cripple the proposed reform ofEU chemicals law (REACH), the chemicals industry has scared and misleddecision-makers by denying the problems of chemical contamination,creating fear over job losses and economic costs, obstructinginnovation, and co-opting small and medium enterprises to theirdisadvantage.

A day after the European Commission launched a new initiative tocontrol excessive lobby influence in Brussels, the Greenpeace reportdocuments the prominent role of the German government and Germanchemicals giant BASF in leading the opposition to REACH in Brussels.BASF, which spearheaded an international campaign to mobilise the USand other non-EU governments to undermine REACH, admitted in 2005 thatit had 235 politicians under contract in Germany alone.

"Lack of accountability and transparency in Brussels decision-makingcomes at the cost of public interest legislation," said Jorgo Riss,director of Greenpeace European Unit. "The  chemicals industry'scorrosive campaign to destroy REACH thus far has depended on thewillingness of key officials to abandon their role as public servantsand behave like industry lobbyists."

The report compares the projected costs of REACH (0.2 billion euro peryear) with chemicals industry annual sales (586 billion euro, or 2,790times as much as REACH would cost). It exposes the hypocrisy of thechemicals lobby: while the industry was arguing in Brussels that itcould not afford safety regulations on cost grounds, BASF sales rose14% to 47.2 billion euro, and its net income rose 50% to 3 billioneuro.

Nadia Haiama, Greenpeace EU policy director on chemicals, said: "Thedrip-drip influence of the chemicals lobby has led to a wholesaledilution of what started out as a promising effort to improve humanhealth. Unless this toxic influence is reversed, REACH will allow thecontinued use of hazardous chemicals that can cause cancer andreproductive illnesses, even where safer alternatives are available."[1] [2]

Other contacts: Nadia Haiama, Greenpeace European Unit policy director, chemicals, tel +32 (0)274 1913/ +32 (0)476 961376 (PT, FR, EN, ES)Jorgo Riss, Greenpeace European Unit director, tel +32 (0)2 274 1907 (DE, EN, FR)Katharine Mill, Greenpeace European Unit media officer, tel +32 (0)2 274 1903/+32 (0)496 156 229 (EN, FR)

Notes: Toxic Lobby: How the chemicals industry is trying to kill REACH is available for download at[1] See report: Fatal Flaws - Effect thresholds and "adequate control" of risks: the fatal flaws in the Council position on Authorisation within REACH[2] See report: Fragile – Our reproductive health and chemical exposure: a review of the evidence for links between declines in human reproductive health and our exposure to hazardous chemicals