Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

Campaigners Demand Change at EFSA

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Parma, 13 November – Campaigners today demonstrated outside a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), held at its headquarters in Parma, Italy. Farmers, NGOs, students and local activists gathered to denounce the industry-capture of our food safety system that EFSA plays a key role in.
 
José Manuel Benitez from Spanish farmers organisation COAG said: “EFSA is not fulfilling its mandate to ensure European citizens safe food and safe farming environments. European farmers and peasants demand a radical shift in EFSA’s modus operandi.”
 
The conference is celebrating 10 years of “transparency, independence and scientific excellence” but the campaigners say that EFSA experts and members of its management board have frequently been shown to have a conflict of interest with the food and biotech industry.
 
They argue that even after 10 years, EFSA has not put in place the robust rules needed to effectively ban such conflicts of interest with industry.
 
Nina Holland (Corporate Europe Observatory) said:
"We're standing on EFSA's doorstep in Parma to deliver our demands for radical change at the agency in order to really work for food and environmental safety. EFSA and the European Commission are celebrating EFSA's 10th year anniversary, but
we think they better clean up their act and ban industry influence from food safety decisions."
 
Earlier this year the European Parliament earlier refused to approve EFSA’s budget, and the European Court of Auditors called EFSA’s independence policy ‘inadequate’.
 
Campaigners also criticise EFSA’s reliance on industry studies and data to form its scientific advice to the EU institutions.
 
Citizens and farmers gathered in the demonstration call for EFSA to be fundamentally reformed and presented demands for change, supported by a large group of European civil society networks and organisations, in the following areas:
 
1. Prevent conflicts of interest
2. EU laws should be overhauled so that independent bodies test substances, not industry itself
3. A code of scientific practice should be established
4. Improve transparency and accountability
5. Ensure wider participation
 
On Monday (12 November), farmers and citizens took part in a conference in Parma to discuss EFSA’s longstanding problems and to consider possible alternative approaches.

ENDS
 
Contact:
Luca Colombo, FIRAB, l.colombo@firab.it , tel: +39 348 39 88 618
Nina Holland, CEO, nina@corporateeurope.org, tel: +31 630 285 042
Andrea Ferrante, European Coordination Via Campesina , a.ferrante@aiab.it , tel:+393480189221
 
Pictures of the conference and demonstration are available at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/corporateeuropeobservatory/

The detailed demands with the full list of supporting organisations can be read on http://corporateeurope.org/sites/default/files/attachments/EFSA-demands-...
 
Related issues: 
 
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.
There has never been a more important time to ensure that the EU's top decision-makers are free from possible conflicts of interest.
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.
The position of Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission is problematic, concentrating too much influence in one person and undermining other Commission research and assessment processes. We ask Mr Juncker, the new President of the European Commission, to scrap the position.

Corporate Europe Forum