EFSA overcharged and undervalued

28-10-2008 | |
EFSA overcharged and undervalued

Herman Koëter recently resigned as Science Director with the European Food Safety Authority passing fierce criticism on the organisation.

According to Koëter EFSA is seriously overcharged, while political
preferences of the European Commission more and more are reflected in research
questions.

Koëter says
that the head of EFSA, Frenchwoman Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, is
too much influenced by politicians and industry. “Several times we
have been asked by the European Commission to have another look at the dangers of
genetically modified food, while we just had delivered a report on this subject,”
he said.

GMO-lobby
Koëter sees ugly roles of anti-GM countries,
such as Italy and Austria, on the one side and pro-GM countries on the
other. “They just don’t take one answer for granted. The European Commission is
solving this by endlessly doubting our judgements and asking for further new research.
This way they are continuously pushing the final verdict forward.”

The
independence of the Scientific Committee and the Panels was the most important
reason for starting EFSA in 2002, Koëter writes in a letter.

Consumer
trust
“The success of EFSA and its foundation – consumer trust – was
built on this independence,” he said, referring to several feed scares that
preceded the formation of EFSA.

The organisation has no time for
political driven research, since it is already overcharged. The situation is
acute. “We are researching the safety of food additives, which has to be done in
shorter period of time. This sometimes conflicts with the highest standards of
scientific methods,” he said.

Health claims
For example the
qualification of new health claims are a considerable problem. “We were equipped
to do several hundreds of claims per year. However in the first year we received
40,000 claims. Geslain-Lanéelle limits what and how we have to research. That is
practical, but not according to my standards.” It also does not reflects the
standards of other workers at EFSA, who are increasingly unhappy, emphasises
Koëter.

EFSA is just capable of guaranteeing food safety, but everything has
its limits. I say: Parma [EFSA HQ, ed.] has a problem. It is time for openness,
not for denial.”

EFSA refused to react on the allegations of an
“ex-employee”.

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