Conflicts of interest rife with Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators

Some of Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators have serious conflicts of interest and are too close to the industry they are supposed to police, according to a new report released today. [1]

In March it emerged that Angelo Moretto had resigned from the European Food Safety Authority’s PPR Panel, which assesses the safety of pesticides, following revelations of a conflict of interest. Moretto allegedly failed to declare an interest in a consultancy company, Melete Srl., founded to support companies needing to comply with the EU’s REACH regulation on chemical safety.

The new report, "Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators – Who do they work for?" reveals that Moretto’s conflict of interest regarding Melete is just the tip of the iceberg. Moretto is just one of several EFSA regulators with close links to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), a US-based organization funded by multinational pesticide, chemical, genetically modified seed, and food companies. ILSI backers include ADM, BASF, Bayer, Cargill, DuPont, Kraft, Mars, Monsanto, Syngenta, and Unilever.

Claire Robinson, author of the new report, said, "ILSI is active in redesigning pesticide, chemicals, and genetically modified food risk assessment processes in the US and Europe. It presents a veneer of impartial science but its recommendations follow a trend of reducing the expense and rigour of safety testing. This suits industry but puts public health at risk.

"ILSI has come under heavy criticism in the US from groups such as the National Resources Defense Council and the United Steelworkers of America for weakening regulatory standards. It’s busy doing the same in Europe."

EFSA management board and expert panel members with links to ILSI include Alan Boobis, Milan Kovac, and Theodorus Brock. EFSA chair Diana Banati resigned from ILSI last year after her links with the organisation hit the headlines. But controversially, she kept her EFSA position.

Claire Robinson said, "EFSA is currently looking for new scientific advisers and expert panel members. [2] We call upon EFSA to make a clean sweep of ILSI- and other industry-affiliated people from its ranks and to replace them with experts who recognize their duty to protect public health and the environment, not industry interests."

Source : GMwatch, 8 april 2011

[1] Earth Open Source. 2011. Europe’s pesticide and food safety regulators – Who do they work for? April. Download from:

[2] EFSA. 2011. Call for new Scientific Committee and Panel members 2011.