Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has sent a joint open letter to the European Commission to highlight concerns about "revolving doors" after the former head of the European Food Standards Agency GMO panel became a lobbyist for Syngenta. The European Food Standards Agency failed to intervene to impose a "cooling off" period before the move - which creates a clear conflict of interest.
Suzy Renckens became Head of Biotech Regulatory Affairs for Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME) at Syngenta in May 2008, shortly after leaving EFSA's GMO panel at the end of March 2008 after five years with the European authority.
The four organisations behind the letter (CEO, Friends of the Earth Europe, Lobbycontrol and Test Biotech) believe that the management of EFSA failed to act properly in this case. Despite the fact that NGOs warned EFSA about the confllicts raised by this move in November 2009, EFSA still has not taken sufficient action or received the necessary clarifications from Renckens. Also, the NGOs question the ongoing work of the EFSA GMO panel, since the current guidelines as used by EFSA were basically developed under the coordination of Ms Renckens. Although some of the details in the guidelines have been updated since then there, has been no substantial change in their basic concept.
Read the full text of the letter below and see also this recent newspaper article (in German): Perspektivwechsel;Ehemalige EU-Lebensmittelkontroleurrin arbeitet nun für Gentech-Konzern, Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.01.2010.