European Food Safety Authority
The EFSA is an EU agency that provides independent scientific advice and communicates on existing and emerging risks associated with the food chain. EFSA was established in Feb.2002, and is based in Italy.
EFSA's main remit is to give scientific advice to the regulators of pesticides, genetically modified foods, and food contaminants and additives, in the interests of protecting public health. Its work covers all matters with a direct or indirect impact on food and feed safety, including animal health and welfare, plant protection and plant health and nutrition. EFSA supports the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU member states in taking effective and timely risk management decisions that ensure the protection of the health of European consumers and the safety of the food and feed chain. EFSA also communicates to the public in an open and transparent way on all matters within its remit.
Conflicts of Interest
EFSA have been heavily involved with the International Life Sciences Institute, which is funded by multinational pesticide, chemical, GM seed, and food companies. The EFSA collaborate with ILSI to redesign the risk assessment processes under which products are evaluated for safety. EFSA regulators also collaborate with ILSI affiliates in publishing papers in scientific journals; the papers do not report the outcomes of actual research, but instead propose changes to risk assessment.
EFSA has been criticised for their alleged overregulation, as well as allegations of "frequent conflicts of interest", some of them undeclared.
EFSA has also been criticised by the NGO CHEM Trust for misrepresenting the results of their expert committee's report on Bisphenol A (BPA) in January 2015. EFSA claimed in the abstract, press release and briefing that Bisphenol A 'posed no risk' to health, when the expert report actually stated the risk was 'low' when considering aggregate exposure (beyond just food). EFSA later modified the abstract to correct this error, though the press release remains unchanged. EFSA have argued that use of 'no health concern' in their press release and Bisphenol A briefing is to ensure these materials are accessible, though this rationale is disputed by CHEM Trust.
- Jan.15.2019: EU glyphosate approval was based on plagiarised Monsanto text, report finds. Study for European parliament ‘explains why EU assessors brushed off warnings of pesticide’s dangers’, says MEP Molly Scott Cato. A crossparty group of MEPs commissioned an investigation into claims that Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) copy-and-pasted tracts from Monsanto studies. The authors said they found “clear evidence of BfR’s deliberate pretence of an independent assessment, whereas in reality the authority was only echoing the industry applicants’ assessment.” The European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe for public use on the BfR’s assessment. A separate analysis of research methods used to evaluate glyphosate by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also raised questions about regulatory independence. It found that EPA regulators used unpublished industry reports in 63% of the studies they evaluated, whereas the IARC relied solely on publicly available literature. Almost three-quarters of the peer-reviewed papers looked at by IARC found evidence of genotoxicity in glyphosate, compared with just 1% of the industry analyses. The Soil Association said: “It is unacceptable that pesticide-industry studies receive greater recognition than scientific peer-reviewed open literature in regulatory decision-making. Arthur Neslen, The Guardian.
- Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators – Who do they work for? Claire Robinson, Earth Open Source, Apr.2011.