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EFSA: conflicts of interest on board

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.

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