EFSA urged to clean up list of 'public interest' organisations

OPERA research center front group for pesticides industry

Corporate Europe Observatory has written a letter to EFSA, to urge the food safety agency to take concrete steps to ban conflicts of interest on its expert panels. CEO highlights one particular loophole identified in its recent report “Unhappy Meal: The European Food Safety Authority's independence problem”. This regards a specific list of food safety organisations used by EFSA that are considered to be working in the public interest, and therefore activities with these organisations is not a conflict of interest.

However, a short report published by CEO and Beelife titled "OPERA Research Center, a front group for the pesticide industry in the bee debate", attached to the letter, shows that this list needs urgent and critical revision. It highlights the Italy-based OPERA Research Center, regarded by EFSA as a food safety organisations (FSOs) as it belongs to the Italian private university Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, itself part of this list. This organisation, whose director is a member of EFSA's pesticide panel, is partly financed and supported by agrochemicals producers and acts as a lobby group in these companies' interest in Brussels. OPERA has in particular been active to influence the debate in Brussels on the impact of pesticides on bees, one of the most controversial issues in the sector these days.

The letter and report have also been sent to European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič and to Members of the European Parliament, who will soon be discussing EFSA's budget.

Find the letter here.

Find the report here.

You can now also vote for the three 'bee-killers' Syngenta, Bayer and BASF, nominated for the 2014 Public Eye Awards. CEO is one of the supporting organisations for this nomination.