Exposed: conflicts of interest among EFSA’s experts on food additives
New research by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has found that 11 out of the 20 experts on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) panel on food additives (ANS) have a conflict of interest, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Four members of the ANS panel – John Christian Larsen (chair), Gerrit Speijers (rapporteur), Iona Pratt, and Jürgen König – have also failed to declare active collaborations with the food industry-funded think tank and lobby group, the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI Europe). Under the current EFSA rules, failure to disclose “advice or services in a particular field falling within EFSA’s remit” – even if unpaid – is considered as a “prima facie breach of trust towards EFSA” that could lead to these four experts’ dismissal.
CEO is calling for stricter rules on the way conflicts of interest are handled at EFSA, and in the report compares EFSA's approach to conflicts of interest with the new rules at sister agency the European Medicines Agency. If these new rules, although far from perfect, were applied at EFSA, four of the experts on the ANS panel – Ivonne Rietjens (vice-chair), Gerrit Speijers (rapporteur), Jürgen König and Sandro Grilli – would be disqualified from sitting on the panel.