With new evidence of GM harm emerging, ANH asks: ‘who do EU regulators really serve?’

By the ANH team

Once again, we find that the ‘independence’ of a European regulatory body is being called into question, this time the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

It transpires that the former head of the GMO panel at EFSA, Suzy Renckens, has been allowed by the food safety authority to move directly to a job with Syngenta, one of the largest agribusiness companies in the world, and a key GM player .  Such a move is not permitted according to EFSA’s own procedures, which are designed to prevent ‘conflict of interest’.

The Testbiotech Institute, Germany, who promote independent research and public debate on the impacts of biotechnology, made the information about the move public, and have reported that, only at that point, did the EFSA executive management acknowledge and communicate about the controversial move.

Scathing criticism of EFSA 

The Executive Director of Testbiotech has been scathing in his criticism of EFSA: "The executive management of the authority has been negligent in its duty of care. Mrs Renckens’ direct move into industry should not have been approved. The EFSA executive management apparently lacks sufficient awareness of the problem. The procedure is portrayed by the authority as completely normal."

Testbiotech is demanding that EFSA face ‘consequences’, and is calling for its reorganisation. Testbiotech have also said they are referring the matter to the EU Commission.

This revelation about EFSA’s ‘revolving door with the GM industry’ is all very ironic considering that the EFSA Management Board, in 2004, issued a Press Release reiterating its "confidence in the independence and commitment to transparency of its Scientific Panels".

New study shows rapid liver and kidney damage from 3 types of GM corn

A new French study published in the International Journal of Biological Science, and led by JS Vendomois, compares the effects of three GM corn varieties through feeding them to rats. The researchers found that all three varieties of GM corn (NK 603, MON 810, MON 8630, all currently consumed in food and feed) had a ‘clear negative impact’ on liver and kidney function in just 90 days, although the condition of the rats was also carefully studied after 14 weeks of feeding.

Other harmful effects on organs were also noticed, and there were different effects for the different varieties. The authors believe that the observed signs of liver and kidney toxicity were "possibly due to the new pesticides specific to each GM corn", although they were unable to rule out that the "mutagenic properties of the GM transformation process" were responsible for some of the metabolic effects.

The authors strongly recommend further long term (up to 2 years), multi-generational animal feeding studies to determine "true scientifically valid data on the acute and chronic toxic effects of GM crops, feed and foods".

These concerns have been widely reported in the press:

UK chief scientist calls for ‘green revolution’ embracing GM technology 

Meanwhile, the big push for GM, by certain governments, continues….

Professor John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Government, recently delivered a speech at the annual UK Oxford Farming Conference entitled: "The key issues for agricultural science". He spoke about the ‘food security’ challenges of the 21st century, including climate change, population growth, and the need for sustainable management of resources. He announced: "We need a new and “greener revolution”, improving production and efficiency through the food chain within environmental and other constraints. Techniques and technologies from many disciplines, ranging from biotechnology and engineering to newer fields such as nanotechnology, will be needed".

So there we have it: the UK Government’s big plan to embrace GM, neatly disguised as ‘green’, and slipped in as a ‘sustainable’ solution to the global problems! Well it won’t be fooling those among us who have their eyes open, and who don’t have the interests of the biotech industry as their driving force.

This announcement by the UK Government has been widely reported in the press, and roundly condemned by various organisations such as the Soil Association.

Who do EU regulators and their ‘gold-plating’ governments really serve?

Last March, the Council of the European Union rejected EU Commission proposals aimed at lifting "provisional prohibitions of genetically modified maize in Hungary and Austria".

With the integrity and independence of EFSA now being seriously questioned over links with the biotech industry, and added to the list of suspect EU regulators with links to big pharma, together with the huge push for GM by governments such as the UK, along with the EU-wide bans and further threats to natural products, it all makes us wonder who the EU regulators and their ‘gold-plating’ governments such as the UK, and their related agencies such as EFSA are really ‘serving’: EU Member States’ citizens or big industry? Do let us know what you think!


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