Greenpeace press release, 31 October 2008.

Belgium -- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) should be banned from issuing opinions on genetically modified crops until it is able to assess the long-term impact of GM technology on health and the environment, said Greenpeace today following EFSA's opinions on three highly controversial GM crops. While the EU is in the middle of a crucial debate on the reform of its authorisation system for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), EFSA has issued positive opinions on a Syngenta pesticide-producing maize (Bt11) and a Pioneer-Dow pesticide-producing and herbicide-tolerant maize (1507). EFSA has also stated that there is no scientific evidence to justify the French ban on Monsanto pesticide-producing maize (MON810).

"EFSA is becoming the laughing stock of the scientific community. Rubber-stamping anything the agro-biotech industry puts forward, with the blessing of the European Commission, is destroying its credibility," said Márta Vetier, Greenpeace EU GMO campaigner.

For two of these GM crops (Bt11 and 1507), EFSA had already issued positive opinions. Nonetheless, these were sent back to the authority in May 2008 after the Commission found that essential elements were missing from the risk assessment. But nothing has been done yet to improve the system.

EFSA's opinions reject recent scientific evidence highlighting the negative impact caused by GM crops on biodiversity and the environment (1).

The Commission's health and environment director-generals recently wrote to EFSA's executive director urging the authority to assess health and environmental impacts related to the increased use of herbicides because of GM crops (2). In April this year, EFSA also agreed with the Commission to spend two years improving its capacity to assess the long-term and indirect impacts of GMOs (3). The majority of member states currently debating GMOs at Council level also agree that EU risk assessment must be strengthened.

"Greenpeace calls on the Commission to shut down the EFSA GMO panel until it is able to function properly under EU law," said Vetier.

Notes to Editor

(1) http://www.greenpeace.org/eu-unit/press-centre/policy-papers-briefings/GM-crops-too-many-risks-to-ignore

(2) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902125247.htm

(3) http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/questionDetailsRO.jsf

Contact information

Márta Vetier - EU GMO campaigner, +32 (0)2 274 1920, marta.vetier@greenpeace.org

http://www.gmfreeireland.org/news/2008/oct.php