Hume Brophy

Background

Hume Brophy is a global public relations and lobby firm. It describes itself as a “sector-led, political, regulatory and campaigning firm that delivers results for our clients to enhance their commercial outcomes and improve their operating environments.”1Hume Brophy,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/maOZn

The company has offices in Dublin, London, Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Singapore, and Hong Kong, “which allows our clients unmatched access to the highest level of international decision-making,” according to its website.2Our People,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/G13df 

The firm claims that its Brussels office “gives strategic access to the EU’s capital.” 

According to the staff biography of a Brussels-based Hume Brophy account director named Eamonn Lawler, the firm’s “client work tends to focus on planning and executing public affairs campaigns, with a specific public policy or legislative target to work towards. Advising major MNCs, innovative start-ups and EU trade associations, we analyse the business implications of a legislative proposal and then leverage political, third-party and media engagements for the clients’ policy goals.”3Eamonn Lawler,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Elg29

Hume Brophy specializes in the aviation, energy, financial services, food, and agriculture sectors. The company says that its “agri-food practice guides our clients through complex procedures found in agricultural, food production and chemical approvals.”4Sectors,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Os95J

Hume Brophy’s current clients in the European Union include Euroseeds, Bayer, the Glyphosate Renewal Group, and the U.S. Sustainability Alliance, alongside a number of airlines.5Hume Brophy”, European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH 

Hume Brophy runs the Glyphosate Renewal Group (GRG), a group of companies working together to call for the renewal of EU authorization for the active substance glyphosate, an agricultural herbicide. The GRG is based out of Hume Brophy’s offices, on behalf of the agribusiness companies named as GRG members.6Terms and Conditions,” Glyphosate Renewal Group. Archived August 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RuEkX 7Agrifood Atlas – Facts and figures about the corporations that control what we eat 2017,” Heinrich Böll Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and Friends of the Earth Europe, 2017. Archived August 31, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Hume Brophy is the sole registered lobbyist for the GRG and received €300,000 – 399,999 from the organization in 2021, making it Hume Brophy’s largest Brussels client.8Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH

Past Hume Brophy clients include coal mining and processing company Peabody Energy, as well as the World Coal Association, a trade body representing the coal industry.9Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, February 21, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD

Stance on Climate Change

Hume Brophy does not have a public statement on climate change on its website. 

Its page on agri-food work states: “The challenges of feeding an ever-growing global population while striking a balance with sustainability concerns is one which creates interest from an [sic] widening group of stakeholders.”10This is the world of agri-food,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/LfSEm

Following a May 2022 event with FoodDrinkEurope and the Food and Drink Federation, two food industry associations, Hume Brophy published an article on its website titled, “After the Invasion: What is the Future for Food and Agriculture in the EU and the UK?” which stated:11After the Invasion: What is the Future for Food and Agriculture in the EU and the UK?,” Hume Brophy, May 4, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Eosru

“With food prices increasing by 30% in the last year, the real worry for food security lies in the long-term impacts – if costs are high, availability of fertilizer and feedstock are affected, so those farmers who can plant crops, will be unable to do so. […]

“Climate goals are also beginning to be put on the back burner. Across Europe, we are seeing governments withdraw support for renewables, but to what extent can we hold the environment hostage to food production?

“…many argue this is ill advised, and the race to net zero cannot be compromised….During this crisis, we must find a way to feed ourselves, while not losing sight of our climate targets.”

The article suggested that the UK should review food security and improve in-country yields, and that precision farming is “regarded as the future of the industry.”

Lobbying

According to its entry on the EU Transparency Register, Hume Brophy works with a “range of clients including trade associations, companies, and coalitions of organizations” on EU policy areas and associated policies including:12Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH 

  • Financial Services & Commodities
  • Trade
  • Energy & Environment
  • Agriculture/Food
  • Healthcare
  • Digital & Technology
  • Chemicals
  • Transport

The company listed over 50 clients in 2021, including the Glyphosate Renewal Group, Bayer, Euroseeds, and the US Sustainability Alliance.13Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH Legislative proposals or policies targeted included a number related to agriculture and food, such as the EU’s Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies, and the Revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive. Hume Brophy states on its website that it also represented companies involved in aviation, biomass and biofuels.  

It had registered 29 meetings with senior European Commission officials between 2015-2022.14Meetings – Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register, September 29, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

According to information on Hume Brophy’s EU Transparency Register and LobbyFacts profile, its Brussels lobby clients have included: 

Hume Brophy’s lobbying support in Brussels appears to include organizing meetings with members of the Commission,27Cecile Billaux, Email subject: “Fwd: Meeting request”, on AsktheEu website, September 7, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. arranging events for clients,28New Genomic Techniques What benefits for SMEs in the agri-food sector?”, Euroseeds, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file as DeSmog. 29How innovation in plant breeding boosts sustainable farming in the EU”, Take The Date. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/8c9I9 and coordinating press releases.30Glyphosate Task Force Laments the Extreme Politicisation of an EU Renewal Process That is Supposed to Be Based on Science”, Business Wire, June 6, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sAley 31Glyphosate Task Force: NGO Activists Ignore One of the Largest and Most Thorough Evaluations of an Active Substance Conducted to Date, in an Attempt to Politicise a Scientific Process.,” Business Wire, March 7, 2016. Archived November 17, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jbQlR 

For example, in April 2022, Hume Brophy moderated an event for Euroseeds and the American Seed Trade Association titled “New Genomic Techniques: What benefits for SMEs in the agri-food sector?”32New Genomic Techniques What benefits for SMEs in the agri-food sector?,” Euroseeds, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file as DeSmog.

In the past, Hume Brophy has represented fossil fuel and Big Tobacco companies. In 2015, it received €50,000 – 99,999 to represent the World Coal Association, according to its profile on transparency website LobbyFacts.33Hume Brophy”, LobbyFacts.eu, February 21, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 

Hume Brophy received €50,000 – 99,999 in both 2013-14 and 2015 to represent the coal company Peabody Energy, which in 2015 told the White House that greenhouse gas was a “non-existent harm” and a “benign gas that is essential to all life.”34Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, June 17, 2015. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 35Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, February 21, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 36Kevin Grandia. “Peabody Energy to White House: Greenhouse Gas a ‘Non-Existent Harm‘,” DeSmog, July 14, 2015. 

In 2016, DeSmog reported that according to court documents, Peabody Energy had funded  dozens of climate denial groups.37Farron Cousins, “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmog, June 13, 2016. 

In 2016, Corporate Europe Observatory submitted a complaint about Hume Brophy and its representation of the World Coal Association to the EU lobby register authorities. According to Corporate Europe Observatory: “we accused [Hume Brophy] of facilitating a meeting with a then unregistered lobby group (the World Coal Association) and a senior Commission official, breaching the Commission’s own rules. Furthermore, we accused Hume Brophy of not declaring the World Coal Association as a lobby client.”38Lobby register too toothless to be effective”, Corporate Europe Observatory, May 17, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/vFRHP 

According to CEO, Hume Brophy arranged two further meetings for the World Coal Association with Marie Donnelly, director, renewables, research and innovation, energy efficiency at DG Energy. While Donnelly did not breach any rules, which only apply to top level officials, she was said to have ignored official guidance that advises for all staff to ensure a lobbyist is registered.39At the coalface of unregistered lobbying,” Corporate Europe Observatory, February 16, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ifKmr 

In 2018, Donnelly was hired by Hume Brophy, and as of 2022 remained a Senior Consultant and Energy Consultant in their Brussels office.40Dulach Glynn. “Hume Brophy Hires Senior European Commission Adviser,” Public Relations Consultants Association, November 21, 2018. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/EsmFm 41This is the world of energy,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/TNyLp 

Hume Brophy has also been criticized for its representation of Big Tobacco. In February 2011, the Guardian reported that a successful campaign by the National Federation of Independent Retailers (NFIR) against a ban on cigarette displays in UK shops had been funded by British American Tobacco (BAT). Hume Brophy, which represented British American Tobacco, had attended meetings involving BAT and the NFIR about the campaign. It was also said to have emailed MPs claiming the ban would have a “devastating effect on the small business sector in your constituency.”42Jamie Doward. “​​British American Tobacco admits funding campaign against display ban,” The Guardian, May 28, 2011. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/HIPu4

Lobbying on Farm to Fork Strategy

According to its filing with the EU Transparency Register, Hume Brophy has supported “communication on” issues such as the Farm to Fork Strategy (F2F), the Biodiversity Strategy, the EU Soil Strategy for 2030, and the Revision of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUR) for multiple clients.43Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH  

In 2021, its clients in these agri-food sectors included:

  • Bayer – A major global supplier of agrichemicals, crop seeds, and agriculture-related digital tools
  • Euroseeds – A seed industry trade organization with, members including major firms like Bayer, Syngenta, Corteva, UPL, and BASF
  • U.S. Sustainability Alliance – An agro-industry association whose members include the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. Meat Export Federation44About Us”, U.S. Sustainability Alliance. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JVdoQ 
  • AnimalhealthEurope – An association representing the animal medicine industry
  • Interprofessional de Porcino de Capa Blanca (INTERPORC) – A Spain-based association for the white pork industry
  • Centrale Organisatie voor de Vleesector (COV) – The meat industry trade association in the Netherlands
  • Inaporc: The French pork sector’s trade association
  • Landbrug & Fodevarer (L&F) – A Danish business organization for the agriculture and food industries
  • Meat Industry Ireland (IBEC) – The trade association for the Irish meat industry
  • Verband der Fleischwirtschagt e.V. (VDF) – Trade association for the German meat industry

Many of these companies and organizations have lobbied on EU Farm to Fork targets, including Bayer, Syngenta, Corteva, BASF, UPL, and AnimalHealthEurope. 

In May 2021, Hume Brophy senior Brussels lobbyist George Lyon hosted a launch event for a Farm to Fork impact assessment titled “The socio-economic and environmental values of plant breeding in the EU and for selected EU member states.”45How innovation in plant breeding boosts sustainable farming in the EU,” Take The Date. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/8c9I9  Euroseeds commissioned science consultancy HFFA Research to produce the report. Euroseeds initiated and financed the study.46Steffen Noleppa, Matti Cartsburg, “The socio-economic and environmental values of plant breeding in the EU and for selected EU member states,” HFFA Research, May 2021. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In addition to the speakers listed, Hume Brophy also invited the Head of Cabinet for Janusz Wojciechowski, Europe’s Commissioner for Agriculture, to the event.47Invitation – Euroseeds online event 17 May 2021,” Email from Hume Brophy to Jorge Pinto Antunes, May 4, 2021. Provided by the European Commission, Accessed via AsktheEU, May 4, 2021. Archived November 21, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The study examined the possibility that plant breeding could help offset supposed low crop yields “potentially resulting from” the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. The impact assessment concluded that “without accelerating plant breeding in the EU in the future, the objectives of the ‘Farm to Fork’ and ‘Biodiversity’ strategies and, hence, the European Green Deal can hardly be achieved.”48Steffen Noleppa, Matti Cartsburg, “The socio-economic and environmental values of plant breeding in the EU and for selected EU member states,” HFFA Research, May 2021. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The study’s authors stated that the results “have never been influenced by the initiator and supporters of the study.” However, they acknowledged that a “project steering group” from Euroseeds, as well as Euroseeds’ “partner organisations,” provided “continuous and valuable feedback throughout the research phase” of the project.49Steffen Noleppa, Matti Cartsburg, “The socio-economic and environmental values of plant breeding in the EU and for selected EU member states,” HFFA Research, May 2021. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The EU corporate lobby watchdog group Corporate Europe Observatory argued that the study’s conclusions “replicates the GM lobby’s regulatory wish-list.”50A loud lobby for a silent spring: The pesticide industry’s lobbying tactics against Farm to Fork,” Corporate Europe Observatory, March 17, 2022. Archived July 26, 2022. Archive PDF: https://archive.ph/hpFb3 

In October 2021, Euroseeds co-sponsored an online event with the American Seed Trade Association, titled “How can innovation and new technologies in agriculture, such as Plant Breeding Innovation, contribute to a more sustainable food system?”51Charting transatlantic cooperation for a sustainable food system,” Euroseeds, October 13, 2021. Archived November 21, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/BSLvr Hume Brophy arranged for Director of International Affairs at DG Agri John Clarke to speak at the event.  Other listed speakers included MEP Veronika Vrecionová, Head of Cabinet of EU Agriculture Commissioner Jaciej Golubiewski, the director of the University of Bonn’s Center for Development Research Dr. Marin Quin, and Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young and Doug McKalip of the U.S Department of Agriculture.52Email from Hume Brophy, “RE: Invitation as a guest speaker: Transatlantic dialogue on agricultural innovation for a sustainable food system,” Provided by European Commission, Accessed via AsktheEU, October 8, 2021. Archived November 21, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Hume Brophy lobbyist George Lyon, who has previously been an MEP and Scottish President of the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), has been vocal on the EU’s Farm to Fork targets, particularly with regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its effects on the global food system.53George Lyon,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fFGwS 

In an April 2022 op-ed in the The Press and Journal, Lyon wrote:54George Lyon. “George Lyon: Ukraine war raises questions over energy and farm policies,” The Press and Journal, April 2, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yqaN7 

“The [Ukraine] crisis has prompted several EU countries to question whether the European Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy is the right approach to decarbonising the farm sector in Europe? Experts predict the binding measures in Farm to Fork to slash pesticide and nitrogen use and dramatically increase organic production to 25% of agricultural land in the EU could cut food production by 10-15%. They warn that puts food security in Europe at risk.

“Many are now asking whether it is wise for the EU to sacrifice food production and rely on imports given the harsh lessons from the energy sector.”

Lyon went on to state that while farm organizations should not be exempt from the net-zero targets for the agricultural sector, questions should be raised about how such targets will be met. Lyon championed the American approach of pursuing “climate smart agriculture practices that both cuts carbon and increases yields.” He contrasted these to the EU approach: 

“The European Commission, led by Vice President Frans Timmermans, appears to be ideologically opposed to intensive agriculture ignoring the fact that it produces the vast bulk of the food we eat.” 

Climate smart agriculture and ‘sustainable intensification’ have been championed by the industry as necessary measures to meet food demands while cutting carbon. However, NGOs have accused the industry of using the “hunger card” – i.e. stoking unrealistic fears about European food security in light of Russia’s war with Ukraine – to ensure that the continent’s agriculture continues to rely on chemical-intensive farming.55Matthias Wolfschmidt. “Op Ed | Hunger Games and Locked in Pesticides,” ARC 2020, September 20, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/1VqbT 

According to tracking by Corporate Europe Observatory, Lyon in 2020 “publicly asked for the [Farm to Fork] strategy to be delayed,” in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.56Corona Lobby Watch,” Corporate Europe Observatory, May 1, 2020. Archived October 5, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/7zV7l

In September 2022, the Council of the EU – which represents Member States that sign off the Commission proposals – was said to be “dragging its feet” on plans to halve pesticide use as part of the Farm to Fork strategy, according to reporting by the Financial Times.57Andy Bounds, “EU delays cut in pesticide use over food output fears,” Financial Times, September 13, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/KqPwk

In December 2022, Member States voted to reassess the plans to halve pesticide use, a decision that environmental campaign group ARC2020 said was the result of “pressure from the pesticide lobby and big-ag”.”SUR – Pesticide Regulation – Delayed by Additional Impact Assessment,” ARC2020, December 20, 2022. Archived December 21, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/9KyjI

Lobbying for the Glyphosate Renewal Group

The Glyphosate Renewal Group (GRG), which is based in the offices of Hume Brophy, is a group of companies working for the renewal of EU authorization to use glyphosate, a powerful herbicide. A decision on whether to renew the approval of glyphosate in the EU is expected in mid-2023.58Terms and Conditions,” Glyphosate Renewal Group. Archived August 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RuEkX 59Agrifood Atlas – Facts and figures about the corporations that control what we eat 2017,” Heinrich Böll Foundation, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, and Friends of the Earth Europe, 2017. Archived August 31, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Glyphosate is widely used by farmers to kill weeds in their fields. Intensive farming practices, including the excessive use of agricultural chemicals like glyphosate, have been found to be dangerous for honeybees and other pollinators. These animals are the cornerstone of food systems and plant reproduction around the world, as they pollinate around two-thirds of global crop plants.60Declining bee populations pose threat to global food security and nutrition,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, May 20, 2019. Archived October 17, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/0uxsX 

Glyphosate is a key active substance in pesticide and herbicide products that some studies have linked to causing cancer.61Glyphosate,” European Commission. Archived October 4, 2021. Archive.ph URL: https://archive.ph/zRFSP In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO)’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”62IARC Monographs Volume 112: evaluation of five organophosphate insecticides and herbicides,” World Health Organization. Archived April 1, 2019 The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a draft human health risk assessment in 2017 stating that glyphosate is “not likely” to be carcinogenic to humans.63EPA Releases Draft Risk Assessments for Glyphosate,” Environmental Protection Agency. Archived September 19, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/f1Dlt The European Food Safety Authority simply states that glyphosate is “widely used in plant protection products (PPPs)” to “combat weeds that compete with cultivated crops.”64Glyphosate,” European Food Safety Authority. Archived August 19, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/hQqsd

Manufacturers of “plant protection products” (PPPs) containing glyphosate, including Monsanto’s product Roundup, have been sued in the United States and Europe.65Patricia Cohen. “Roundup Maker to Pay $10 Billion to Settle Cancer Suits,” The New York Times, June 24, 2020. Archived November 1, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/dixLp In 2020, agrichemical giant Bayer, which acquired Monsanto in 2018, settled Roundup-related cancer lawsuits for US$10 billion. The settlement didn’t include taking Roundup off the market.66Camila Domonoske. “Monsanto No More: Agri-Chemical Giant’s Name Dropped In Bayer Acquisition,National Public Radio, June 4, 2018. Archived October 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/4I5ti 

Hume Brophy has lobbied in Brussels for the GRG.67Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH The GRG has been a client of Hume Brophy since 2013, when it was known as the Glyphosate Task Force. Since 2013, GRG/GTF has paid Hume Brophy a total of €900,000 – 1,599,992 euros for lobbying in Europe, placing it amongst the firm’s biggest EU clients for the last decade.682013-2014: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, June 17, 2015. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 692015: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, February 21, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 702016: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, April 25, 2017. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 712017: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, July 18, 2018. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 722018: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, October 23, 2019. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 732019: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, April 3, 2020. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 742020: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, January 19, 2021. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD 752021: “Hume Brophy,” LobbyFacts.eu, May 13, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/uqOFD

In 2021, the GRG was Hume Brophy’s largest European UnionBrussels client, providing €300,000 – 399,999 in revenue.76Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH 

Members of the GRG include Albaugh Europe SARL, Barclay Chemicals Manufacturing Ltd., Bayer Agriculture, Ciech Sarzyna S.A., Industrias Afrasa S.A., Nufarm GMBH & Co.KG (part- owned by Sumitomo Corporation), Sinon Corporation, and Syngenta Crop Protection AG.77Imprint,” Glyphosate Renewal Group. Archived August 12, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/ryTUv 

Hume Brophy has been involved in multiple lobbying activities with the GRG over the last decade. 

In 2021, Hume Brophy moderated a webinar, sponsored by Bayer, in which it explained a glyphosate renewal dossier submitted by the GRG in June 2020 to the European Commission for the upcoming approval process.78Bayer Webinar – Glyphosate: the dossier in 20 minutes,” YouTube Video uploaded by user Bayer Crop Science on January 21, 2021. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

In 2017, the EU’s Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committees held a hearing on the “Monsanto Papers.” The hearing examined whether Monsanto had “unduly influenced regulatory studies into the safety of glyphosate,” following allegations made and documents uncovered in U.S. courts. Monsanto refused to attend the hearing, and in response its lobbyists were banned from entering the European Parliament.79Arthur Neslen. “Monsanto banned from European parliament,” The Guardian, September 28, 2017. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Rn5Kq

NGOs including Friends of the Earth Europe and LobbyWatch called on the EU departments to extend the ban to Hume Brophy and the Glyphosate Task Force – GRG’s predecessor – writing: “we know that Monsanto’s voice extends far further than its declared lobby registration. The transparency register allows us to see that its interests are represented by an array of organisations, from lobby consultancies to trade associations.”“80Sign-up letter asking for a comprehensive, transparent and efficient ban on Monsanto lobbying,” Alter-EU. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

A 2017 op-ed by Hume Brophy lobbyist George Lyon in The Press and Journal claimed: “The relicensing of Glyphosate was also hijacked by a similar populist political campaign by Green NGOs despite the European Food Standards Agency (EFTA) giving it the all-clear. With GMOs it has been the same story.”81George Lyon. “George Lyon – Brexit brings a welcome move away from Brussels control on pesticides, herbicides and biotech regulation,” The Press and Journal, May 9, 2017. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fJUyM

In 2016, Hume Brophy lobbyists held meetings with then-Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on behalf of the GRG, ahead of glyphosate’s approval in 2017.82Jenny Hopkinson and Giulia Paravicini. “How grassroots lobbying push blindsided Monsanto,” POLITICO, June 8, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Tsloq 

Hume Brophy also arranged a meeting on glyphosate re-authorization for two Monsanto representatives with a member of the cabinet for the EU Commissioner of Trade.83Cecile Billaux. “Email subject: “Fwd: Meeting request,” on AsktheEu website, September 7, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

At the meeting, Monsanto representatives “stressed the economic losses of their company due to delays in approval and unpredictability faced by farmers for planting seeds. This situation causes damage to farmers and costs are high for Monsanto as they had to compensate them.”84Cecile Billaux. Email subject: “Report – CBi meeting with Monsanto, 21.09.2016,” on AsktheEu website, September 26, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

In 2016, Hume Brophy was also involved in writing two press releases for the Glyphosate Task Force – the predecessor to the GRG.

A June 6 press release titled “Glyphosate Task Force Laments the Extreme Politicisation of an EU Renewal Process That is Supposed to Be Based on Science,” which was responding to the decision to extend the existing approval of glyphosate by 18 months until 2017 rather than give full reapproval, stated that “sudden expiration” of glyphosate’s approval “would entail serious consequences for European farmers,” calling the herbicide “a reliable and effective tool for weed management and the protection of crop yields.”85Glyphosate Task Force Laments the Extreme Politicisation of an EU Renewal Process That is Supposed to Be Based on Science,” Business Wire, June 6, 2016. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sAley 

The Chairman of the Task Force, Richard Garnett, added: “The indecision among Member States and the need [for] an extension are highly regrettable and a sad sign of how politically charged the glyphosate renewal process has become.” 

A March 7, 2016 press release criticized activists for supposedly “politicis[ing] a scientific process,” stating:86Glyphosate Task Force: NGO Activists Ignore One of the Largest and Most Thorough Evaluations of an Active Substance Conducted to Date, in an Attempt to Politicise a Scientific Process.,” Business Wire, March 7, 2016. Archived November 17, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/jbQlR 

“The Glyphosate Task Force (GTF) finds the latest interference of activists with the EU regulatory process unacceptable, and objects to the pressure exerted today by anti-pesticide activists against the representatives of the member states participating at the Standing Committee on phytopharmaceuticals taking place today in Brussels.

“The European approval process for pesticides is rigorous and transparent. In the case of the Glyphosate, it is one of the most comprehensive and thorough evaluations of an active substance to date.”

Key People

Hume Brophy’s CEO Conall McDevitt is a former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (2010-2013).87Conall McDevitt,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/7NmMp 88Conall McDevitt from SDLP quits politics over payment,” BBC News, September 4, 2013. Archived July 22, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/xTz44

Jill Craig is the managing director of Hume Brophy’s Brussels office.89Jill Craig,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/rWk5g 

For 2022-23, Hume Brophy lists 20 staff members who have access to the European Parliament.90Hume Brophy,” European Commission Transparency Register. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/UFBdH

In 2015, former UK MP Esther McVey was hired by the firm after losing her seat in the UK’s General Election.91Summary of business appointments applications – Esther McVey,” Gov.uk, April 4, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3AXgx  

McVey returned to Parliament after winning her seat back in the 2017 election.92The Rt Hon Esther McVey MP,” Gov.uk. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/upqud  

The company also previously hired James Wharton after he worked as Boris Johnson’s campaign manager.93Adam Ramsay. “Welcome to Boris Johnson’s government of all the lobbyists,” OpenDemocracy, July 27, 2019. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/V74UX  

George Lyon is a senior consultant and “agri-food specialist” for Hume Brophy. He was a Liberal Democrat MEP for five years, and “an influential member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, working on CAP reform, the EU budget and trade policy,” according to his biography on Hume Brophy’s website. He has also been the Chief Whip and Deputy Finance Minister in the Scottish Parliament, and the President of NFU Scotland, the UK’s farming union.94George Lyon,” Hume Brophy. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fFGwS 95Paul Hutcheon. “Row as ex-MEP takes up lobbyist role for GM firm,” The Herald, January 24, 2015. Archived January 18, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.vn/21a89  

Lyon has been vocal on Scottish climate targets for the agricultural sector. In August 2022 he wrote, “Back in 2019 Scottish farming industry leaders were asleep at the wheel when the Scottish government legislated for a binding target requiring Scottish agriculture to cut its emissions by an eye watering 34% from 7.5million tonnes to 5.3 m tonnes by 2032.”96George Lyon. “George Lyon: NFUS found asleep at wheel with no clear view of future,” The Courier, August 9, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/9O9RB

He is also a proponent of North Sea oil and gas, writing in April 2022 that European dependency on Russian oil and gas supplies, “highlights the folly of those in the UK who are calling for the oil and gas to be left untouched in the North Sea.”97George Lyon. “George Lyon: Ukraine war raises questions over energy and farm policies,” The Press and Journal, April 2, 2022. Archived September 29, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/yqaN7

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