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9-Misc: Europe's Food Safety Authority challenged as new stakeholder initiative begins



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TITLE:  Europe's Food Safety Authority challenged as new stakeholder
        initiative begins
SOURCE: Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace International, EURO COOP
        http://www.foeeurope.org/press/2005/joint_06_Oct_EFSA.htm
DATE:   6 Oct 2005

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Europe's Food Safety Authority challenged as new stakeholder initiative begins

Brussels/Parma, 6 th October 2005 - Consumer, environmental and health
groups have today challenged the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to
put public and environmental safety before commercial interests. The call
comes as the EFSA begins a new Stakeholder Platform in Parma, Italy.(1)

The organisations welcome the initiative by EFSA to listen to the views
of stakeholders but urge EFSA to make serious changes in its work and
procedures. In particular the groups are highly critical of the EFSA's
work on genetically modified foods (GMOs).

The consumer, environmental and health groups have today published ten
demands for the EFSA (2), calling on it to:

- Fulfil its legal obligations to take into regard the long term safety
of foods as well as the scientific uncertainties

- Review its scientific panels to make them impartial and independent
from industry

- Improve its transparency and implement its Code of good administration
behaviour

Greenpeace have also issued today a new report into the failings of the
EFSA's scientific work on genetically modified foods. (3) In November
last year Friends of the Earth published a detailed critique of EFSA,
accusing it of industry bias. (4) Both organisations call on EFSA to stop
releasing any further opinions on GMOs until the problems identified have
been sorted out.

According to the European Environmental Bureau, the establishment of the
Stakeholders Platform is a welcome step towards improving the
relationship between civil society organisations and the Food Safety
Authority. However the Authority has to improve its work and procedures
to contribute to ensure a high level of protection of health and environment.

Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth said: "The European Food Safety
Authority has clearly made its mind up that genetically modified foods
are safe and ignores any evidence or views that question that position.
Its opinions to date have constantly supported the biotechnology industry
and it disregards voices of concern from either the public or the
national member states. It is time there was a major review of the
scientists working for the EFSA to make the Authority impartial and
independent of industry."

Christoph Then of Greenpeace said: "Potential risks of GM plants have too
often been groundlessly dismissed by the EFSA, despite scientific
concerns. Our new report on GM maize Bt11 shows that it fails to carry
out a full risk assessment of GMOs, as required by EU legislation."

EURO COOP hopes that the Stakeholder Forum will help EFSA in gaining
credibility as a risk assessor in the eyes of consumers and food operators.


Contacts:
Adrian Bebb, Friends of the Earth Europe +49 1609 490 1163
Christoph Then, Greenpeace International +49 171 8780832
Francesco Montanari, EURO COOP +322 285 00 74


Notes to editors


1. For information on the Stakeholder Platform see:
http://www.efsa.eu.int/stakeholder_stakeholder_consultative_platform/
consultative_platform/1058_en.html

2. The ten demands are supported by the European Public Health Alliance,
Eurocoop, the European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace and Friends of
the Earth. The demands can be downloaded from here:
http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2005/EFSA_stakeholders_challenge.pdf

3. Greenpeace have published today a new scientific report on the risk
assessment by the EFSA of a GM crop made by Swiss-based Syngenta, called
Bt11. The Authority gave the green light in May 2005 to the cultivation
of this maize, which could become the first GM plant allowed for growing
in the EU since 1998. A gene from a soil bacteria was introduced in the
maize genome to make it produce an insecticidal toxin. . The new
Greenpeace report shows that no serious investigation was conducted on
the toxicity of this GM maize or its impact on the environment, such as
detrimental effects on useful or protected insect species. Furthermore,
already published scientific results on possible negative environmental
consequences of this GM maize were widely ignored by EFSA. The report can
be downloaded at:
http://eu.greenpeace.org/downloads/gmo/Bt11reportOct05.pdf

4. In November 2004 Friends of the Earth published "Throwing caution to
the wind", a detailed critique of the EFSA and its work on GM foods. The
report can be downloaded here:
www.foeeurope.org/GMOs/publications/EFSAreport.pdf




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