Note: Greenpeace have issued a new report into the failings of the EFSA's scientific work on genetically modified foods. The report shows that no serious investigation was conducted on the toxicity of Bt11 maize or its impact on the environment. Furthermore, already published scientific results on possible negative environmental consequences were widely ignored by EFSA. The report can be downloaded at: http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/Bt11reportOct05.pdf
Europe's Food Safety Authority challenged as new stakeholder initiative begins
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)
Friends of the Earth Europe
For Immediate Release
Thursday 6th October 2005
Brussels/Parma, 6th October 2005 - Consumer, environmental and health groups have today challenged the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to put public and environmental safety before commercial interests. The call comes as the EFSA begins a new Stakeholder Platform in Parma, Italy.(1)
The organisations welcome the initiative by EFSA to listen to the views of stakeholders but urge EFSA to make serious changes in its work and procedures. In particular the groups are highly critical of the EFSA's work on genetically modified foods (GMOs).
The consumer, environmental and health groups have today published ten demands for the EFSA (2), calling on it to:
* Fulfil its legal obligations to take into regard the long term safety of foods as well as the scientific uncertainties
* Review its scientific panels to make them impartial and independent from industry
* Improve its transparency and implement its Code of good administration behaviour
Greenpeace have also issued today a new report into the failings of the EFSA's scientific work on genetically modified foods. (3) In November last year Friends of the Earth published a detailed critique of EFSA, accusing it of industry bias. (4) Both organisations call on EFSA to stop releasing any further opinions on GMOs until the problems identified have been sorted out.
According to the European Environmental Bureau, the establishment of the Stakeholders Platform is a welcome step towards improving the relationship between civil society organisations and the Food Safety Authority. However the Authority has to improve its work and procedures to contribute to ensure a high level of protection of health and environment.
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The European Food Safety Authority has clearly made its mind up that genetically modified foods are safe and ignores any evidence or views that question that position. Its opinions to date have constantly supported the biotechnology industry and it disregards voices of concern from either the public or the national member states. It is time there was a major review of the scientists working for the EFSA to make the Authority impartial and independent of industry."
Christoph Then of Greenpeace said: "Potential risks of GM plants have too often been groundlessly dismissed by the EFSA, despite scientific concerns. Our new report on GM maize Bt11 shows that it fails to carry out a full risk assessment of GMOs, as required by EU legislation."
EURO COOP hopes that the Stakeholder Forum will help EFSA in gaining credibility as a risk assessor in the eyes of consumers and food operators.
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe +49 1609 490 1163
Christoph Then, Greenpeace International +49 171 8780832
Francesco Montanari, EURO COOP +322 285 00 74
Notes to editors
1. For information on the Stakeholder Platform see:
2. The ten demands are supported by the European Public Health Alliance, Eurocoop, the European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. The demands can be downloaded from here: http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2005/EFSA_stakeholders_challenge.pdf
3. Greenpeace have published today a new scientific report on the risk assessment by the EFSA of a GM crop made by Swiss-based Syngenta, called Bt11. The Authority gave the green light in May 2005 to the cultivation of this maize, which could become the first GM plant allowed for growing in the EU since 1998. A gene from a soil bacteria was introduced in the maize genome to make it produce an insecticidal toxin. . The new Greenpeace report shows that no serious investigation was conducted on the toxicity of this GM maize or its impact on the environment, such as detrimental effects on useful or protected insect species. Furthermore, already published scientific results on possible negative environmental consequences of this GM maize were widely ignored by EFSA. The report can be downloaded at: http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/Bt11reportOct05.pdf
4. In November 2004 Friends of the Earth published Throwing caution to the wind, a detailed critique of the EFSA and its work on GM foods. The report can be downloaded here: http://www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/publications/EFSAreport.pdf