GM Free Cymru

Commission accused of six-month cover-up in pursuit of pro-GM agenda

OPEN LETTER 25th November 2009

President Jose Manuel Barroso President, European Commission

Dear President Barroso,

Commission accused of six-month cover-up in pursuit of pro-GM agenda

We are writing to ask you to explain very carefully the role played by EFSA and the Commission in hiding from the public the withdrawal of two high-lysine GM maize varieties from the assessment process by Monsanto's subsidiary Renessen Europe (1).

As you will be aware, these withdrawals are of great significance, not simply because EFSA has -- for the first time -- urged a GM corporation to abide by the Codex protocols in the matter of comparators in scientific studies, but because Monsanto has pulled out of commercializing these varieties very clearly because of safety concerns. It is also clear (as pointed out by scientists in New Zealand) that there were at least a hundred major defects in the research submitted by Monsanto in its dossier. In other words, the original research seems to us to have been fraudulent -- it was designed to mask undesirable health effects, in order to obtain the commercial consents required, regardless of risks to animals and the public.

These withdrawals came to light just a short while ago (2) on a website in New Zealand -- and upon investigation it transpired that the withdrawals were made on 30th April 2009 in two letters to EFSA. We have copies of these letters in our possession. But when we checked on the EFSA web site and various EC web sites, we could find no mention of this withdrawal. There was no press release, no minuted record, and no statement of any kind.

So for more than six months EFSA and the Commission appear to have connived with Monsanto to keep this withdrawal hidden from the public. Was that simply a matter of oversight? We have reason not to think so. We will be grateful for information in response to the following questions:

1. Who was responsible for keeping this matter away from the public? Was that decision made entirely within EFSA, or was the European Commission involved?

2. Why, during the six months following the withdrawal of LY038 and LY038 x MON810, was the public record on GMO-Compass not amended? (3) When we checked this site (which claims to be the definitive record of the "state of play" of GM varieties going through the assessment process) on 10th November, we found this statement: "proceedings have been suspended." We pointed out to the site managers that this implied that the clock had stopped while investigations were under way, and that the statement was misleading. They then agreed that the statement "The application has been withdrawn" should have been put on the site. That statement has now been added. So who made the decision NOT to announce the withdrawal of these two contentious varieties on the GMO Compass website?

3. Were the national regulators and governments of all of the EU states informed, at the beginning of May 2009, that Monsanto had pulled these two varieties because of safety concerns raised by EFSA? And were they all kept fully informed, in March 2009, with regard to EFSA's concerns about the flawed if not fraudulent science contained in the Monsanto dossiers?

We have tried to get answers to these questions from EFSA, with no response. There is prima facie evidence of a cover-up here, of perhaps the most sinister kind. Why would EFSA and the Commission seek to keep this information away from the public? Quite simply because, in the period May - October 2009, several highly significant decisions were due to be made (and have now been made) with regard to GM crops and food within Europe.

For a start, there has been the on-going row in Europe about the status of national bans on MON810 -- one of the varieties used in creating the hybrid LY038 x MON810. A revelation about the withdrawal of that high-lysine variety on safety grounds would probably have had a negative impact on the prospects for MON810 also, and quite rightly so, as MON810 is also problematic with regard to safety. Then there were the highly controversial votes within the European Council on the Pioneer "stacked" variety called 59122 x NK603, and the Monsanto varieties called MON88017 and MON89034. You gave consent for these varieties on 30th October 20098, only a week after the EU countries had failed to agree to import for food and feed use. That was an extraordinarily rapid move on the part of the Commission; could its timing have been influenced by the knowledge that the LY038 withdrawal story (and the bye-line relating to Monsanto's fraudulent science) was about to break? On 15th October your colleague Mariann Fischer-Boel made a speech in which she argued for a loosening of regulatory controls on GM in Europe, and a greater tolerance of contamination in animal feed supplies coming in from the United States. She has been heavily criticised by us for her disloyalty and irresponsibility (4) -- and we are sure that she would have been laughed out of court at the time by everybody else, if it had been public knowledge that two high-lysine varieties intended as animal feed components had recently been withdrawn on safety grounds.

In our view -- and in the view of many of our colleagues who watch the European GM scene -- this is prima facie evidence that EFSA and the Commission have been involved in a six-month cover-up of the developments relating to high-lysine GM corn, so as to push ahead with the agenda of GM approvals and GM promotion (5).

This is a serious charge, and we do not make it lightly. We accuse the Commission of deliberately hiding information relating to the safety of GM crops and foods from public view, in the furtherance of its plans to introduce more and more GM material into the European food chain. In doing so, you have knowingly increased the risks to the health and safety of European consumers.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Brian John GM Free Cymru


(1) Letters from Renessen Europe to EFSA, dated 30th April 2009

(2) Europe balks at GE corn in NZ By PAUL GORMAN - The Press Date 02/11/2009


(4) To: Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel Re: Your advocacy of corrupt GM science

(5) A request made to EFSA on 8th November for key information (including correspondence) relating to this matter, and EFSDA has now said that it needs 30 days in which to reply. This is simply not acceptable. The information does not "have to be assembled". It is already assembled, having been sent to at least one other party.