EU hot air on citizens' opposition to GM
Private Eye No. 1275, 12-25 Nov 2010

The European Union's claim that it wants to listen to its citizens appears to be so much hot air when it comes to GM crops.

One month after Greenpeace and the online advocacy outfit Avaaz launched the EU's first ever "Citizen's Initiative" under the Lisbon Treaty, calling for a freeze on GM crops, the European Commission has yet to reply formally.

Greenpeace's EU Director Jorgo Riss told the Eye: "Over one million citizens have signed the petition... The fact that we have not heard from them is worrying."

Worrying but pehaps not surprising: the Commission's European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has so far ignored all public opposition to GM foods and given a staggering 125 GM authorisations since 1998.

No doubt its coincidental, but several EFSA experts have recently been exposed as having links to the biotech industry --notably the chair of EFSA, Diana Banati, who was also employed by the Life Sciences Institute(LSI). French MEP Jose Bove described this conflict of interest as "scandalous" since the LSI was "the lobbyist of agribusiness", including GM giants Monsanto, BASF, Bayer and Syngenta.

The commission has also turned a blind eye to the role of the current president of the GM scientific committee, Professor Harry Kuiper, who also happens to be co-ordinator of the EU's GM food promotion agency, Entransfood!

In its rush to authorise GM foods, the food agency even ignored warnings by EU agriculture ministers and authorised the highly controversial BASF antibiotic-resistant potato in breach of its own rules.