CropLife America President Says FOIA Request a Wasteful Publicity Stunt

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CropLife America president Jay Vroom issues a statement criticizing a new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request as a wasteful publicity stunt. The request was made to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Aug. 26 by activist group Friends of the Earth, and requests to see written communications between the EPA and seed industry stakeholders pertaining to “neonicotinoids, pesticides, Varroa mites and other issues pertaining to honey bee health” dating back to June of 2013.

Those communications include “documents, records, and materials between the EPA and individuals representing Syngenta, Bayer CropScience, Croplife America, and Monsanto.”

In the statement, Vroom says while CropLife America understands and supports the Freedom of Information Act and the role it plays in ensuring government transparency and recognizes that all citizens have a right to utilize FOIA, “since I and a number of my colleagues are personally identified in the sweeping FOIA request issued by Friends of the Earth on August 26, 2015, and the matters in question are of the highest priority to CropLife America and our member companies, I feel compelled to respond.

“I personally reject Friends of the Earth statements implying that somehow I, my colleagues at CropLife America and the members of our association have some secretive, undue influence with regulators at the EPA. In order to help establish a balanced public record on the matter, I decided to comment immediately.”

He goes on to say that “CropLife America and our members, along with the NGO community, know the burden that FOIA requests place on government officials. We know that complying with these requests takes valuable time that otherwise would be devoted to productive regulatory work.

“I do not believe that Friends of the Earth’s FOIA request aims to accomplish any regulatory impact, and instead serves as a public relations stunt. I, alongside my colleagues at CropLife America and within the crop protection industry, are disappointed at this wasteful action.”

The Friends of the Earth FOIA request names Vroom as one of several industry employees that the group wants to see communications from. Others include Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience.

The Friends of the Earth request comes on the heels of a similar request made in July by anti-GMO activist group US Right to Know. The group filed a request under Washington’s freedom-of-information law to see correspondence from a nutrition scientist at Washington State University. The request led to the recent controversy surrounding a donation from Monsanto to support the Talking Biotech education program founded by Kevin Folta, a plant scientist at the University of Florida.

After threats were made to Folta, the University of Florida announced last week that it is re-allocating the donation money to a university food pantry.

For Vroom’s full statement visit: http://www.croplifeamerica.org/node/1480

To view the full Friends of the Earth FOIA request, go here: http://webiva-downton.s3.amazonaws.com/877/12/b/6377/EPA_bees_FOIA_August_2015.pdf

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