On 10 May, the European Parliament voted against granting discharge of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) budget for the year 2010. By doing so, it adopted a report from its Committee on Budgetary Control criticising EFSA very harshly for conflicts of interest and revolving door cases (http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/661).
On 8 May, just two days before the vote, Diána Bánáti, Chair of the EFSA Management Board, had resigned with immediate effect. She will take up a professional position at the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). Diána Bánáti had been subject to criticism since September 2010 because she was Board Member of ILSI Europe. After leaving ILSI, she was re-elected as chair of EFSA’s Management Board in October 2011. Now she is returning to ILSI Europe, which is funded by food industry and agrochemical companies (http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/656).
EFSA wrote a letter to ILSI explaining that according to its new regulations on independence, experts from ILSI are excluded from various working levels at EFSA:
"Regarding the classification of ILSI involvement as a category V activity “ad hoc or occasional consultancy”, EFSA’s new rules explicitly exclude the involvement of scientific experts participating in scientific work related to services provided to products, their development and/or assessment methods carried out on behalf of trade associations or other bodies with an interest in this subject matter, such as ILSI."
Obviously, in a reaction to the pressure from the EU Parliament, EFSA then decided to postpone the nomination of new experts for several scientific panels. The nominations, which were scheduled for 8 May, will now take place on 27 June.
In a letter to the EU ombudsman in regard to the case of Suzy Renckens, EFSA admitted for the first time that it had not taken the necessary action to stop revolving doors (http://www.testbiotech.org/en/node/650). EFSA states that “regrettably” the authority did not follow up the relevant information. Further, the authority acknowledges that it has strengthened internal rules in response. More information on the case of Suzy Renckens at: http://www.testbiotech.org/en/independence.
Testbiotech published a new backgrounder “MON88017 'Roundup Rootworm Maize' - ready for cultivation?” (http://www.testbiotech.de/node/639) warning that the insecticide producing genetically engineered maize MON88017 might help pest insects become even more harmful. Researchers in a US laboratory have shown that the pest insects, known as corn rootworm, may not only become resistant to the insecticide producing maize plants, but the development of the larvae can be speeded up and fertility higher. Thus, commercial cultivation of these plants could result in helping the pest insects that are also known as the 'one billion dollar bug', to spread even quicker in the fields.
On 2 May, the SCFCAH voted on the application of soybean MON87701xMON89788 (http://ec.europa.eu/food/committees/regulatory/scfcah/modif_genet/ag0205...). No decision was reached. The case will now be forwarded to the appeal committee.
On 11 April, EFSA published a scientific opinion on the annual monitoring report by Monsanto on the cultivation of GM maize MON 810 in 2010. The GMO panel notes shortcomings in the methodology for Case- Specific Monitoring (CSM) and General Surveillance (GS), but does not identify adverse effects on the environment, human and animal health due to maize MON810 cultivation during the 2010 growing season.
On May 21, EFSA published a scientific opinion on a request from the European Commission related to the emergency measure notified by France on genetically modified maize MON 810 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2705.htm). According to the opinion, the GMO Panel found no scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment, that would support the notification of an emergency measure.
On 2 April, EFSA published its annual report of the EFSA Scientific Network for Risk Assessment of GMOs for 2011 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/260e.htm).
EFSA published a call for tender: Review of the strategies for the comprehensive food and feed safety and nutritional assessment of GM plants per se (CFT/EFSA/GMO/2012/04). http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/tenders/tender/cftefsagmo201204.htm. For the first time the authority is starting to work on the details how to perform a risk assessment that is not based on the comparative approach.
On 30 May, the GMO Panel might adopt opinions for the following applications (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/events/event/120530-a.pdf):
- Application for authorisation of genetically modified Soybean 40-3-2 for Cultivation submitted under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 by Monsanto (EFSA-GMO-NL-2005-24) (EFSA-Q-2005-251)
- Application for authorisation of genetically modified maize MIR162 for food and feed uses, import and processing submitted under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 by Syngenta (EFSA-GMO-DE-2010-82) (EFSA-Q-2010-00972)
- Application for authorisation of genetically modified Soybean MON87705 for food and feed uses, import and processing submitted under Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 by Monsanto (EFSA-GMO-NL-2010-78) (EFSA-Q-2010-00165)
- EFSA environmental risk assessment guidance on genetically modified animals (EFSA-Q-2011-00919)
EFSA published an event report regarding a workshop on key allergens and compositional analysis in the allergenicity assessment of genetically modified plants which was held on 21st March 2012 (http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/supporting/pub/289e.htm).