European Food Safety Agency
Conflicts of interest still exist at EFSA, say NGOs
By Ophélie Spanneut | Wednesday 27 June 2012
In spite of new rules adopted by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), in March 2012
(1), conflicts of interest continue to plague this body. Thus conclude three NGOs (Corporate Europe Observatory, Earth Open Source and Pesticide Action Network) after reviewing declarations of interests completed by members of the EFSA’s expert panels and scientific committee.
Some failed to complete correctly or completely their declaration of interests, omitting to mention their active participation in the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), an organisation that defends the interests of large food and drink companies. Others still work as consultants for food and drink firms. The NGOs note that in such a case, the panel member may apply for and conduct further research.
In a statement, released on 26 June, the NGOs are also critical of EFSA’s new rules. Under these rules, panel members may obtain research funding from industry up to a maximum of 25% of their budget. The amount of funding received from industry is not being disclosed, however. In some cases, the forms indicate only that funding was obtained from “private” or “industry” sources, without giving the names of the companies. The NGOs nonetheless acknowledge that some experts previously singled out for conflicts of interest do not appear on the new list.
Nina Holland of Corporate Europe Observatory urges the EFSA “to further strengthen its new rules to effectively ban industry influence”.(1) See www.efsa.europa.eu/en/keydocs/docs/independencerules.pdf