1. GMOs: EFSA breaches basic ethical code 
2. GMO: European Agency with two hats
1. GMOs: EFSA breaches basic ethical code
Corinne Lepage MEP
Edited by Gaelle-Marie Zimmermann  
Le Nouvel Observateur
7 October 2012
Article in French:
English translation by GMWatch

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued an opinion that attempts to invalidate the study by the researcher Seralini on the toxicity of GMOs. For Corinne Lepage, author of a recently published book on this subject, there may well be a conflict of interest highlighting a serious ethical breach by EFSA. Explanation below.

EFSA's method of evaluating the study on GMOs is quite surprising because it is quite unusual from an agency.

Once again, it shows how EFSA covers up its own responsibility in the GMO issue and how it protects itself. To recognize the validity of the study would be to cut the branch on which the agency has sat for years, since all its opinions on GMOs were positive.

EFSA simply compiled the arguments of critics of Seralini

Moreover, the pre-opinion provided by EFSA perplexed me since it contains word-for-word criticisms and attacks provided by opponents of the study. The type of rat, the number of rats per group, through citation of the OECD carcinogenicity procotols (although Seralini's study is a toxicology [not carcinogenicity] study), the agency seems to do nothing other than copy-paste the arguments of critics of Gilles-Eric Seralini. And this without even taking account of the fact that EFSA's own opinions are based on criteria that have been shown to be much less exacting than those of the study.

So when I learned with dismay that the peer reviewer (that is to say, the expert reviewer of the study) who worked on the pre-opinion issued by EFSA last Thursday [Andrew Chesson], is in fact one of the editors of the opinion of the GMO Panel in 2003 [on the same GM maize that Seralini studied, NK603; the EFSA opinion names Chesson as a contributor], I note once again, an absurdity and an ethical conflict. This makes him, at the same time, judge and jury on this opinion.

Despite reform commitments given to MEPs during the hearing in the committee on the environment, public health and food safety on September 20, EFSA has shown gaps in the health risk assessment, in which Europeans need to have confidence and transparency. EFSA's mission is to ensure the safety of European and not to cover up inadequate assessments.

One cannot be both judge and jury: EFSA must draw conclusions

The organisation of EFSA's responsibilities must be totally reviewed. Article 23 on the functioning of EFSA states that the tasks of the Authority are:

1. To ensure that the public and interested parties quickly receive reliable, objective and understandable information in the areas within its remit;

2. Express independently its own conclusions.

The agency's questioning of the study by Gilles Eric Seralini would lead, if it followed its own advice, to its questioning all the other [industry] studies and also publishing all the raw data from all these studies.

At the hearing I drew the attention of the Director of EFSA to the fact that those who peer-reviewed this study should not be the same people who worked on the original opinion. EFSA obviously did not listen and does not see the value of working with such experts, or just threw out any ethical code.

Evaluators should not be standard-setters. But there again, we have our work cut out [le travail reste totalement à faire]. Witness the profile of the second peer-reviewer of Seralini's study, Alberto Mantovani. He represents the EFSA panel on pesticides, in reviewing the study of Gilles Eric Seralini, and is also a member of the Endocrine Disruptors Testing and Assessment (EDTA) Task Force of the OECD, which makes the standards. The loop is closed.

Catherine Geslain-Laneelle [executive director of EFSA] must draw useful conclusions by resigning.
2. GMO: European Agency with two hats
Guillaume Malaurie
Le Nouvel Observateur
6 Oct 2012
Article in French:
English translation by GMWatch

When preparing to review the study of Gilles-Eric Seralini on NK603 maize, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), showed it could be trusted: it ensured that the authors were not members of the panel (the scientific group) that had authorized the placing on the market of the same NK603.

The logic was that allowing an author to occupy the role of both judge and jury would make the opinion suspect. How can one review one's own opinion? Except that once again, the EFSA is tripping over ethics.


One of the two scientists consulted ("peer reviewers" (1)) to write the "killer" pre-opinion of EFSA on the research of Gilles-Eric Seralini on October 3 is the Briton Andrew Chesson.

But this is the same Andrew Chesson who, together with Gijs Kleter, had prepared the draft opinion that the EFSA panel had voted in favour of, on November 25, 2003. And which concluded with the authorization to market NK603 maize.

Andrew Chesson was thanked at the end of the favourable EFSA opinion of November 2003 in these terms: "The Scientific Panel on Genetically Modified Organisms wishes to thank Andrew Chesson and Gijs Kleter for their contributions to the draft opinion."

And the same expert who prepares the arguments of the opinion that gave the green light to the marketing of NK603 is precisely one of the scientific experts, a peer reviewer, who must judge the study which highlights its toxicity!

After the conflicts of interest that have considerably weakened the authority of EFSA, this is the time of the false nose, of hide-and-seek, and lies by omission.

So much for an organization that is responsible for the health of 300 million Europeans, whose conduct and procedures should be above suspicion.

(1) "Acknowledgement: EFSA wishes to thank the Following EFSA staff: Saghir Bashir, Per Bergman, Danielle Marks Court, Claudia Paoletti, Manuela Tiramani, Didier Verloo and Elisabeth Waigmann Provided for the media to this scientific output. EFSA also thanks the peer reviewers of this statement, Andrew Chesson (member of the GMO Panel) and Alberto Mantovani (member of the PPR Panel)."