An influential European Parliamentary Committee has raised serious questions about the integrity of EFSA (the European Food Safety Agency) with regard to the manner in which it deals with GM crops and foods.
At its meeting in Brussels on 3rd December the Petitions Committee heard two presentations (1) from petitioner Dr Brian John, who claimed (for the third time since 2008) that his rights as a citizen to safe food and a healthy lifestyle were being directly threatened by EFSA’s ongoing support for GM products in the food chain. Dr John also claimed that EFSA was involved in a conspiracy with other interested parties to “bury” a recent French research study (by Prof G-E Seralini and colleagues) showing that rats which had very small quantities of GM maize and Roundup herbicide incorporated in their food supplies suffered from severe toxic effects including cancerous growths (2).
He accused EFSA of orchestrating a campaign of vilification against the research team and of publishing a predetermined and unscientific “opinion” relating to the French research (3). Further, he accused EFSA of abandoning scientific ethics and good scientific practice and of being driven by political expediency and the need to protect the reputations of EFSA staff, who have for the last decade been in a state of denial about the negative health effects of GMOs.
In a second petition submitted on behalf of 15 scientists from various parts of Europe, Dr John examined a Draft Implementing Regulation on GMOs which the EC is about to bring into law without any proper scrutiny from Parliament (4). He accused EFSA of reducing the requirements placed on applicants for GMO consents while maintaining the cynical pretence that the regulatory regime was being tightened up in the interests of food safety. He also accused EFSA and the EC of abandoning the Precautionary Principle, in defiance of EU law, and said that EFSA was about to be given unlimited discretionary powers in the GM assessment process, in an attempt to take total control of the GM agenda and to illegally influence GM policy.
MEPs who spoke during the Committee deliberations were universally hostile towards EFSA and the Commission on these issues, and supportive of the points made by the petitioner. They all argued that when it comes to food safety and citizen’s rights, prudence and the Precautionary Principle must take precedence at all times, and they were unconvinced by claims that EFSA and the Commission are truly independent of the GM industry. They questioned EFSA’s rushed and totally negative response to the Seralini study, and asked for a much broader consultation within the independent scientific community about GMO and Roundup toxicity. Further, there were calls for long-term (2 year) feeding and toxicity studies to be made mandatory for all GMOs intended for incorporation into the food chain. Committee members thought that it would be appropriate, in the circumstances, for Prof Seralini to be invited to address MEPs on his research findings, possibly in the context of a joint meeting of the Environment and Petitions Committees.
At the end of the meeting Eric Poudalet, speaking for the Commission, confirmed that there was currently a freeze or “reflective phase” with regard to the Draft Implementing Regulation, while the Commission consulted further on the implications of the Seralini study.
Commenting on the outcome of the meeting, Dr Brian John said that he was very grateful to the Parliament for giving ordinary citizens the right to question EU policy and the use of regulations in this way. “I am heartened that after four years the Petitions Committee is still not satisfied that the EC and EFSA have dealt with my concerns and taken my citizen’s rights seriously. I hope that the Committee will now pursue this matter relentlessly, since I am convinced that there is corruption right at the heart of Europe when it comes to the assessment of GM crops and foods. The Commission and EFSA are involved in a conspiracy to cover up the facts relating to GMO and Roundup toxicity, and it is now time for them to be called to account .”
Dr Brian John, GM-Free Cymru
1. The two Petitions are:
No. 813-08: The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens
Name: Brian John
No. 436-10: Formal protest from scientists against the Commission’s draft regulation on implementing rules concerning the applications for authorisation of GM food and feed.
Named Petitioners: Dr Brian John, Dr Jose Ramon Olarieta, Prof Brian Wynne, Dr Mae-wan Ho, Prof Jose L. Domingo, Prof Bob Orskov, Prof. Enric Tello, Dr Eva Novotny, Dr Irina Ermakova, Dr Michael Antoniou, Dr Arpad Pusztai, Prof Marcello Buiatti, Dr Susan Bardocz, Dr. Rafael Hachikyan
2. Séralini, G-E., E. Clair, R. Mesnage, S. Gress, N. Defarge, M. Malatesta, D. Hennequin, J. Spiroux de Vendômois. 2012. Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modiﬁed maize. Food Chem. Toxicol. 19 September 2012
3. The EFSA statement entitled “Final review of the Séralini et al. (2012a) publication on a 2-year rodent feeding study with glyphosate formulations and GM maize NK603 as published online on 19 September 2012 in Food and Chemical Toxicology” was published on November 28th 2012, together with an “Annex” containing the opinions of selected member states.
4. EFSA (2011) European Food Safety Authority, Guidance on the submission of applications for authorisation of genetically modified food and feed and genetically modified plants for food or feed uses under Regulation (EC) No 1829/20031 EFSA Journal 2011;9(7):2311. [27 pp.] doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2011.2311
Available online: www.efsa.europa.eu/efsajournal
EU Commission (2012) Commission Implementing Regulation (…) on applications for authorisation of genetically modified food and feed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 (…),
5. EFSA and the Commission pretend that “the scientific community” is universally hostile towards the Seralini study. This is a lie.
Hundreds of scientists defend Seralini against EFSA and other GM apologists
AN OPEN LETTER
About 200 scientists from 33 countries have written in support of Seralini and his colleagues, and 95 scientists have thus far signed the Open Letter entitled “Seralini and Science” and found here: