Corporate Europe Observatory

Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU

  • Dansk
  • NL
  • EN
  • FI
  • FR
  • DE
  • EL
  • IT
  • NO
  • PL
  • PT
  • RO
  • SL
  • ES
  • SV

European Commission nominates food lobbyist to EU food safety agency's management board - again

Press release by Corporate Europe Observatory & Testbiotech

The European Commission's Health and Consumers Directorate (SANCO) has short-listed a director of the biggest EU food industry lobby group FoodDrinkEurope among the candidates to the management board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Ms. Beate Kettlitz works in a leading position for the lobby group, which represents all major European food and drink corporations. It is the second year in a row that the Commission has tried to appoint representatives from FoodDrinkEurope as members of EFSA's management board: just one year ago, the European Commission nominated FoodDrinkEurope's executive director Mella Frewen 1 (a former Monsanto lobbyist). Her appointment was rejected by the European Parliament and member states.

EFSA is responsible for the risk assessment of all issues related to food and feed safety including genetically engineered plants, pesticides and food additives. Its management board is the food agency's governing body, also in charge of its independence2. EFSA's independence remains problematic today, with numerous conflicts of interests with industry reported among its scientific panels3.

“The fact that the European Commission shortlists a food industry lobbyist, once again, for EFSA's management board is an incomprehensible signal for all those concerned about the protection of consumers and the environment. Such a professional on EFSA's board would by definition be a permanent threat to the EU's food safety agency's independence” says Martin Pigeon, a researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory.

Seven seats on EFSA's management board are up for renewal in June 2014. The European Commission has published a list of 23 names, mostly from national food safety agencies, research institutes and academia4 for the EU Parliament's consideration and the member states' decision. But four persons among those short-listed also have interests in the food industry:

  • Jan Mousing, re-applying for the position, is the CEO of the Danish Knowledge Centre for Agriculture, a private company describing itself as the “main supplier of professional knowledge for the agricultural professions” in Denmark;

  • Piet Vanthemsche, who is also re-applying for the position, holds a leading position in industrial farmers union COPA and also sits in MRBB holding, an agri investment fund which also has shares in companies selling GMOs5.

  • Alan Reilly, chief executive of the Irish Food Safety Authority (Ireland's public food safety administration), is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the European Food Information Council (EUFIC)6, a Brussels-based food lobby group financed by the some of the largest private food and drink companies in Europe7.

  • Milan Kovac, from the Slovak Ministry of Agriculture, was a board member of ILSI Europe until 2011. ILSI Europe, an industry research institute supported by all the biggest agrofood multinationals, is a central actor in the agrofood industry's scientific influence over EFSA8.

The Commission's justification for these nominations is an industry-friendly interpretation of EFSA's founding regulation, which states that four of the 14 board members “shall have a background in organisations representing consumers and other interests in the food chain”. But nowhere is it mentioned that the food industry should be involved, in fact quite the contrary: EFSA's 2011 independence rules stipulate that “persons employed by industry shall not be allowed to become members of EFSA's scientific committee, scientific panels and working groups9.

Image:© 2006

Related issues: 

LEt’s kick Big Oil and Gas out of EU and UN climate policy. sign the petition now!

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) told CEO today, and publicly announced on their website, that they would disclose most of the raw data of studies on glyphosate used in the EU's toxicity assessment of glyphosate.

The official EU assessment of glyphosate was based on unpublished studies owned by industry. Seven months later, the pesticide industry still fights disclosure and, so far, successfully. We obtained a copy of their arguments.

The European Commission proposal on scientific criteria defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs) is the latest dangerous outgrowth of a highly toxic debate. The chemical lobby, supported by certain Commission factions (notably DG SANTE and the Secretary-General) and some member states (UK and Germany), has put significant obstacles in the way of effective public health and environment regulation.

This May is dense on the EU chemicals regulation front. Crunch time for two major files: the European Commission needs to publish the identification criteria for endocrine disrupting chemicals, and together with EU States must decide how, or not, renew the market approval of glyphosate, an herbicide produced and defended by Monsanto. Last week, the Professor Alan Boobis happened to be involved in both.

As world leaders prepare for COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, this November, the oil and gas industry retains a firm grip on the UN climate talks and climate policy in general. It’s time to break free and reclaim power over climate policy.
The EU-Canada trade deal CETA continues to draw heavy criticism. Behind the PR attempts to sell it as a progressive agreement - including a recent declaration hammered out by Brussels and Ottawa - CETA remains what it always has been: an attack on democracy, workers, and the environment.
Corporations like Monsanto have limitless resources to buy political power through lobbying. This short guide, published at the occasion of the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, exposes some of Monsanto’s key lobbying strategies and tools, illustrated with examples from different parts of the world.
How the agribusiness lobby has weakened the new EU air quality directive with serious consequences for health. An article written by Vincent Harmsen en Berna van Vilsteren and translated by Iris Maher.
-- placeholder --

The corporate lobby tour