Last week, yet another highly disturbing story broke about the well-worn revolving doors between the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and big industry. Diána Bánáti, who was Chair of EFSA’s Management Board, was ‘obliged’ to resign in order to take up a position as executive and scientific director at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) — a Big Food lobby group.
2009: Greens MEP calls for Bánáti resignation
The neat press releases from EFSA and ISLI don’t, of course, reveal either the alarming extent of this link or its significance. Ms Bánáti’s links to Big Food and Big Agri go back several years, and appear a lot cosier than are appropriate for high-level EFSA employees. So much so in fact, that José Bové, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), called for her resignation back in September 2010.
It ought to be a scandal that a regulatory agency like EFSA, which should be completely independent from industry, is so brazenly in cahoots with an organisation representing the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont, Nestlé and Kraft, among others.
Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) also highlights ‘problematic links’ between EFSA panel members and ILSI, demanding action from the European Commission. However, EFSA has finally admitted its shortcomings over an earlier scandal involving Dr Suzy Rencken.
This admission hasn’t prevented the European Parliament from voting to delay approval for EFSA’s 2010 budget. EFSA has written to the European Parliament strongly refuting any allegation of undue influence on its work from any interest group, including ILSI.
Conflicts on the Menu
Anyone interested in the way EFSA works and how it is influenced by industry should read a fascinating and comprehensive CEO/Earth Open Source report entitled Conflicts on the Menu, which was published in February this year. It highlights the changes necessary at EFSA, and calls for more people and organisations to engage in, “The push for radical change at EFSA and to reverse its current pro-industry bias”.
We’d certainly go along with that!
Call to Action
Write to EFSA and express your concern about their unacceptable revolving doors and links to industry, and their obvious pro-industry bias.
Ask what they are going to do to change things, given that conflicts of interest persist, even after EFSA’s 2011 revision of its independence policy on scientific decision-making and conflicts of interest.
Address your letters to:
Ms Catherine Geslain-Laneelle
European Food Safety Authority
Largo N. Palli 5/A
or email: Catherine.Geslain-Laneelle@efsa.europa.eu