‘Unhappy Meal’: European Safety Authority Accused

Written by | Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

The Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has recently accused the European Safety Authority (EFSA) for its policy concerning possible conflict of interests. The report called ‘’Unhappy Meal: The European Food Safety Authority’s Independence Problem’ says that most specialists sitting on EFSA’s bodies have direct or indirect ties to industries that EFSA is supervising.
According to the report, the newly implemented rules for regulating experts have failed and major loopholes in EFSA’s independence have been found. According to opponents, the new rules for the supervision of specialists are very narrow, and do not address the issue of conflict of interests in EFSA. Moreover, current regulation does not disable numerous experts with entrepreneurial skills to serve full-time or part-time on EFSA panels including high-level positions, such as vice-chairs or panel chairs.
According to CEU, the situation casts shadow over credibility of EFSA’s independence, scientific estimations in a number of areas such as food additives, packaging, contaminants, pesticides or genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). CEO said that they were shocked by the results of the report and especially by the number of possible conflicts of interests that could rise in EFSA. According to Stephane Horel, an independent journalist involved in the case, every EFSA panel excerpt for one suffers from the problem of conflicts of interest.  Those cover ties to private consulting companies, lobbying institutions, research funding or scientific organizations.
The new regulations that should solve this situation were implemented in May 2012 by the European Parliament to provide EFSA with more precautions against conflicts of interest. Yet, for ten years since its establishment, EFSA has not been able to convince consumers that it is credible enough as a public institution.

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