Food safety watchdog among four slammed by EU court

A corn field in France in August 2012.

AFP - The European Court of Auditors criticised on Thursday the EU agency responsible for genetically-modified foods authorisations, currently at the centre of a row over a French study linking GM corn to cancer in rats.

The Italy-based European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was one of four European Union agencies charged with consumer protection but is said to have poor procedures involving conflicts of interest.

French scientist Gilles-Eric Seralini recently refused to share full details of his research with watchdog EFSA, which he said was too close to the biotechnology agri-business it monitors, a charge frequently levied by environmental campaigners as well.

The inspectors found fault with management at EFSA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The other three were to varying degrees criticised even more, but "the court concluded that none of the selected agencies adequately managed the conflict of interest situations," according to a report published on Thursday.

The court said the aviation body EASA in particular had to "develop comprehensive agency-specific policy and procedures for managing conflict of interest," but all four were urged to do more when "screening candidates for conflict of interest before their appointment."

In a statement, EFSA said many of the court's recommendations were "already integrated in EFSA?s working processes," but that it "will carefully examine any recommendations which may remain outstanding."

The court report showed that these included, for instance, "introducing gifts and invitations policies and procedures."


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