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[SANET-MG] EU FooD Authority is Biased
ISIS Press Release 27/04/06
European Food Safety Authority Criticised for GMO Bias
European Commission Introduces Wide-ranging Changes in Approval Process
A window of opportunity for a comprehensive GM ban. Dr. Mae-Wan Ho
The role of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is to carry out
scientific assessment on food products proposed for the market in order
to ensure that they are safe for human and animal consumption and for
release into the environment. When the EFSA is satisfied that the
products are safe, it gives a “positive opinion”, which, in the past,
would almost certainly have resulted in product approval, despite
dissenting opinions from national regulatory authorities.
The EFSA has been long been accused of bias towards the biotech
industry, not just by civil society organisations, but by EU member
states, including Austria, the current holder of the rotating EU
Presidency. They criticise it for “GMO bias” and say it has approved GM
products without proper research.
On 12 April 2006, the European Commission decided to introduce
“practical changes” to the EFSA’s GMO approval process “so that the
scientific consistency and transparency of its decisions on GMOs will be
The Commission “invites” the EFSA to fully cooperate with member states’
national scientific bodies, to provide them with a detailed
justification in case it rejects scientific objections raised by the
national authorities, and to clarify which specific protocols should be
used by applicants for scientific studies to demonstrate the safety of
the proposed products. The Commission is set to reserve itself the right
to suspend the authorisation procedure and refer back “important new
scientific questions” raised by the member states that are not fully
addressed by the EFSA opinion. Applicants and the EFSA will also be
asked to address more explicitly the potential long-term effects on
health and biodiversity in their risk assessments for placing GMOs on
The changes were based on proposals by Health and Consumer Protection
Commissioner Markos Kyprianou and Environment Commissioner Stavros
Dimas, and adopted by the European Commission after discussions with
member states and other stakeholders.
The Commission’s move to reform the EFSA was generally welcomed by the
NGOs. But Greenpeace Europe wants EFSA to be immediately subject to
mandatory guidelines on how to evaluate the risks of GMOs, and further,
calls for suspension of the current authorisation process and for
re-assessment of EFSA’s previous opinions on GMOs.
The industry group, EuropaBio welcomes most of the proposals except the
one that gives the Commission the right to suspend the authorisation
procedure and refer back the question if a member state raises new
scientific questions not fully addressed by the EFSA opinion. “I find
this point very confusing and wonder how the Commission will do this ‘in
the existing legal framework’, as it says it will,” said Simon Barber
More importantly, this creates an opening for all independent scientists
and civil society to submit new evidence to the European Commission that
could result in a ban on all GMOs if the evidence is taken at all
seriously (see for example, “GM ban long overdue, dozens ill & five
deaths in the Philippines” SiS 29, and many articles in recent issues of
ISIS will be collating new evidence over the next couple of months; so
please send us any information you think relevant to email@example.com
“Commission for more transparency on GMO decisions. EuroActiv.com 12
“Comission proposes practical improvements to the way the European GMO
legislative framework is implemented. Europa Press Release, 12 April
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