Data will be shared with MEPs who requested access

Yesterday MEPs protested against the “secret science” used by the EU to evaluate the safety of glyphosate. The protest followed the MEPs' access to information request to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for industry's safety data on the pesticide, which has hitherto been considered a commercial secret.

Now it seems that the MEPs' actions, backed by long-term campaigning by individuals and NGOs, have been successful.

EFSA today announced that it will release to the MEPs the raw data used in the recent evaluation of glyphosate, as part of its commitment to open risk assessment.

When combined with the detailed background documents already published on EFSA’s website, EFSA says the information will be sufficient to enable a third-party scientist to scrutinise the evaluation of glyphosate that was carried out by EFSA and EU member states.

By releasing the raw data from these industry studies, EFSA says it “will further increase the transparency of the glyphosate evaluation – while complying with its obligations under European law regarding the protection of commercially sensitive information”.

Bernhard Url, EFSA’s executive director, said: “Transparency and openness are essential values for EFSA because they strengthen confidence in science. Sharing the data that underpin our work is a key ingredient in making science reproducible and therefore trusted.  We will continue to make data available whenever we can, while striking the balance between transparency and the legitimate interest of study owners.”

The online magazine EU Food Policy, in an article titled "EFSA creates shockwaves with pledge to release glyphosate raw data", quoted an EFSA spokeswoman as saying that some parts of the studies would be blacked out, such as the description and details of studies conducted under Good Laboratory Practices, as well as the conclusions of the study authors.

If significant amounts of such information were to be blacked out, this would reduce the value of the disclosed data.

While releasing the data only to the MEPs falls short of the full and proactive public disclosure of industry studies that GMWatch has long argued for, it is a significant step in the right direction. In addition, we are confident that the MEPs concerned will facilitate scrutiny of the data by competent independent scientists. To that end, we hope that EFSA has ensured that the data are in copyable format to enable re-analysis. If it has failed to do so, further protests are likely.

Main source: EFSA