Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

EFSA: conflicts of interest on board

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for assessing and communicating food safety in the European Union, for everything from genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to pesticides. However EFSA has recently been criticised because its scientific assessments of new GM crops and pesticides rely almost exclusively on corporate research data. Some EFSA experts have also been accused of being too close to the food and drink industry . Several cases of ‘revolving doors’ (where EFSA employees move straight to industry, or from industry to EFSA) and conflicts of interest have been highlighted. Now, Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has discovered that three EFSA board members are advisors for Big Food companies, working through industry-funded think tanks which aim to manipulate political and scientific debate concerning food risks. A fourth member of the board is director of a fund which has shares in a company selling GM feed. Those conflicts of interest risk influencing the judgement of these board members when involved in EFSA’s work, in particular when they establish work programmes and appoint members of the agency’s scientific committee and panels.

 
A presentation explaining the situation at the European Food Safety Authority and why conflicts of interest scandals keep accumulating there.

According to several EU sources, member states’ diplomats in the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) this morning pre-selected a food industry lobbyist to become a member of the board of the EU Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

EU watchdogs warn member states that they should not appoint food industry lobbyists onto the Board of the EU's Food Safety Authority. Next May 7, member states sitting in the Council of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) will vote to appoint seven members of the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
A director of the biggest EU food industry lobby group, FoodDrinkEurope, has found her way into the shortlist of candidates to the Management Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A current member of EFSA's Board belonged to the public sector when appointed but is now director of the national food industry association in Denmark, re-applying to EFSA's Board. Two other current members of the Board, also re-applying for the position, have strong ties to the agro-food industry. Member States have the final word on these appointments and must act to protect the agency's independence.
The new European Parliament is only weeks old and already three ex-MEPs from perhaps its most important committee have taken a spin in the revolving door to join the private sector. It's clear that the code of conduct for MEPs needs urgent reform.
CEO submission to the European Ombudsman Consultation on the composition of Commission expert groups
Scientific advice should be transparent, objective and independent, and there should be more science and more diverse expertise available to the European Commission’s President, a coalition of 28 international and national NGOs wrote in a letter addressed to President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker today (1).
A few observations on the debate sparked by our open letter on the position of Chief Scientific Advisor to the President of the European Commission, and on the need for proper scientific advice to EU legislators.

Corporate Europe Forum