No scientific consensus on GMO safety, EFSA denies conflict of interest accusations, legal challenge to keep Glasgow's homeopathic hospital and toddlers on smart phones and tablets
“No scientific consensus on GMO safety”
In a key development to counter misleading claims from protagonists of GMOs, 97 scientists, physicians, academics, and experts from disciplines relevant to the “scientific, legal, social and safety assessment aspects of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)” are the first signatories to the statement “No scientific consensus on GMO safety”. The 97 signatories strongly reject claims by GM seed developers and some scientists, commentators, and journalists that there is “scientific consensus” on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is “over”. This statement was released by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, and the document is now open to further signatures.
EFSA still denies conflicts of interest
A brand new report prepared by the NGO Corporate Europe Observatory warns about continuing serious conflicts of interest at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The report concludes: “Over half of the 209 scientists sitting on the agency's panels have direct or indirect ties with the industries they are meant to regulate. A much clearer and stricter independence policy needs to be set up and rigorously implemented to restore the Authority's reputation and integrity”. In a statement, Sue Davies, Chair of EFSA’s management board, said that the CEO report demonstrates that what constitutes a conflict of interest remains open to interpretation. In other words, as long as EFSA believes it's being independent, it’s ok!
Legal challenge to keep homeopathy on the UK National Health Service
News broke recently that there is to be a legal challenge to the decision by the UK Lothian National Health Service (NHS) health board to cease funding homeopathic services, following a review and consultation. This is a serious concern for those who value free homeopathy services in the UK. An anonymous patient is said to have “contacted solicitors with her concerns about the way the review was carried out and its long-term impact on those who use the service”. The legal team will argue "the board gathered insufficient evidence to allow it to make a proper decision on whether to close the service". Homeopathy in general, and homeopathic services on the UK NHS, has been under sustained pressure from groups such as skeptics.
Concerned UK citizens can sign the petition to save the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital.
More toddlers using smart phones and tablets
A Common Sense Media research study published this Autumn, entitled “Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013,” has found that 38% of all children under 2 years have “Used a smartphone, tablet or similar device for playing games, watching videos, or engaging in related activities”. This is up from only 10% of children using those devices 2 years ago. The percentage of children aged 8 and under, with “access to some type of ‘smart’ mobile device at home (e.g. smartphone, tablet) has jumped from half (52%) to three-quarters (75%) of all children in just two years”. Common Sense Media's founder and CEO Jim Steyer was interviewed this week about the report.
ANH-Intl has reported on evidence of harm to the young in particular from such devices. Government advice doesn’t always go far enough, but further information for concerned parents can be found at the charity Wired Child.