EU watchdog attempts to undermine already lax regulations to speed up commercial approval of risky GM products

Latest attempt to water down regulations exposed, Dr. Mae-Wan Ho

The European Commission is pandering to the commercial aspirations of the biotech corporations while putting the health of European citizens at risk from genetically modified (GM) products that have never been adequately assessed, said Dr. Brian John of GM-Free Cymru in the UK [1].

John made his accusation in person at the Petitions Committee of the European Parliament in Brussels on 26 April 2010. His view is widely shared by independent scientists who have submitted evidence to the European Food Safety Authority on many occasions only to be persistently ignored
and worse, find themselves the target of a concerted campaign of vilification.

The latest incident that highlights the relevance of John's petition (number 0813-08) is a ‘draft' on ‘implementing' the rules concerning applications for authorisation of GM food and feed for Europe  that the European Commission ‘notified' to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 12 January 2010. This draft regulation had not been discussed in the European Parliament, as required under ‘comitology' procedures, and no press report on it was issued; John discovered the document by accident and was alarmed.

“There is a clear attempt here to water down the requirements of safety studies and toxicological tests placed on applicants, making it much easier and faster for them to gain approvals for GM products, regardless of risks to the public.” John explained. He submitted a written objection to the Commission, detailing the deficiencies of the regulations and especially the draft implementation; and at the same time, protested to the European Parliament against the cavalier way in which EFSA misuses and abuses scientific information in its “opinions”, practically all favourable to industry [6].

EFSA highly selective in its use of scientific evidence

John (and many other scientists), NGOs and consumer groups, have been trying for years to introduce trustworthy and transparent scientific assessment procedures into the European GMO approvals process to no avail. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which provides scientific advice to the Commission, routinely bases its “opinions” on highly selective publications and biased scientific dossiers assembled by the applicants that have not been peer reviewed
or independently verified. Not surprisingly, many EU member states disagree on scientific grounds with the opinions of the EFSA. When that happens, the EC issues consents, even where there is substantial scientific uncertainty about the safety of the GM products concerned.

Read the rest of this article