GM Free Cymru

Petition 813-08:
The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens

Presentation to Petitions Committee 27th May 2013

My Petition arises out of the fact that EFSA's GMO Panel routinely recommends approvals for GMOs on the basis of industry-generated and non-replicable evidence that is biased and partial, thereby placing at risk the health of millions of EU citizens (1). At the same time the Commission has pressed ahead with GMO consents (including some for stacked GMO events) in spite of abundant evidence of direct and indirect harm to the health of mammals and to the environment (2). In my view this all involves breaches of the general principles governing the activity of both EFSA and DG-SANCO in connection with the processing of GMO applications.

Since I made my first representation to the Petitions Committee in 2010 I appreciate that through the Committee's kind intervention certain issues have been addressed at EFSA -- including declarations of interest in the GMO Panel, the issue of "revolving doors" and the matter of broader representation from consumer groups and NGOs. I am grateful for that progress (3). However, there are fundamental issues that remain to be addressed, such as the ongoing dependence on poor-quality science in approval dossiers; a reluctance to accept that stacked events must be tested experimentally for synergistic and combinatorial effects (4); an ongoing belief in the nonsensical concept of "substantial equivalence"; and a huge reluctance to incorporate into the assessment process ethical and socio-economic matters and the results of truly independent research groups who discover things that EFSA finds "inconvenient". In my submission, my right as a citizen to clean and healthy food is still being compromised by the presence of GMO materials in the food chain that have NOT been proved to be safe.

In my last presentation (on 3rd December 2012) I expressed my grave disappointment that a new long-term feeding study by Prof Seralini and colleagues (5), which showed predictable toxic effects in rats which had NK603 maize and Roundup traces incorporated into their diets, had been attacked and undermined by an EFSA "multidisciplinary task force" in conjunction with certain member states and with the cooperation of DG-SANCO -- all of whom had a clear vested interest in maintaining the pretence that NK603 and Roundup are effectively harmless, because they themselves have said so in the past (6). This was nothing short of a conspiracy against independent science and against the people of Europe -- and I have seen nothing since which makes me wish to withdraw that charge.

Professor Seralini has systematically dealt with every one of the criticisms directed towards him by EFSA, and he has of course been supported by hundreds of scientists worldwide who abhor the type of victimisation to which he has been subjected (6). They demand, at the very least, a repeat or improvement of his long-term feeding trial, and in the meantime a moratorium on all GMO approvals -- in accordance with the statutory duty placed upon the Commission to employ the Precautionary Principle.

It is very reassuring that the Petitions Committee Secretariat has invited Professor Seralini here today, so that he can explain his work in person.

Finally I should like to make this point. EFSA has sought to portray the findings of the Seralini team as "aberrations" or "anomalies" -- and others (who should know better) have portrayed them as arising from predetermined scientific fraud or experimental incompetence (7). He has been shown precious little respect by EFSA, DG-SANCO and sections of the scientific community, and that is a sad reflection on the state of science today in Europe. The fact of the matter is that the Seralini findings are entirely predictable and in tune with what we know already about the toxic effects of Roundup and GMOs. Roundup is an extremely dangerous chemical that kills things -- there are hundreds of papers in the literature that show that it harms a vast range of living organisms (8). It is marketed by Monsanto as "the ultimate killing machine." Should we therefore be surprised if it has a deleterious effect on laboratory animals and even humans? I suggest not. And NK603 has also been put under scrutiny in the past, by scientists who have shown (in the peer reviewed literature) that it contains technical deficiencies and that animals fed on it (and especially males) experience physiological disturbances (9). These "potential negative impacts on human and animal health" have never been examined by Monsanto or anybody else, in spite of doubts about the composition and genetic stability of NK603 (10).

Roundup and NK603 maize together make for a potentially dangerous mixture -- so why is EFSA so insistent that it is perfectly safe, and why is it so intent upon shooting the messenger who tells them that it is not? The answer is that EFSA is no longer conducting sound and impartial GMO science. It is driven by commercial and political imperatives (11), and by the need to maintain the self-esteem of GMO Panel members -- and EFSA officials -- who have been insisting for years that GMO crops -- and the herbicides that go with them -- are essentially harmless.

EFSA simply cannot be trusted, and as a result we, the members of the public, are being treated as "laboratory rats" in a gigantic experiment, being fed on potentially dangerous GMO products which we did not ask for, which we do not need, and which bring us no nutritional or cost benefits whatsoever. I therefore ask the Petitions Committee to work with the Environment Council to express its lack of confidence in EFSA's GMO panel, to demand a review (using independent scientists) of all EFSA's past recommendations on GMOs, and to demand a moratorium on any further GMO assessments and approvals.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Brian John


(1) Petition 813-08: The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens

(2) Mounting scientific evidence on adverse impacts of GM; a compilation of 300 key articles GE Crop Risk Assessment Challenges: An Overview Dr. Charles Benbrook | May 6, 2013 Opinion Don’t Look, Don’t Find: Health Hazards of Genetically Modified Food Claire Robinson

(3) The Corrupting of EFSA GMO safety studies -- EU Parliament and Council start to get tough Commission and EFSA agree need for two-year GMO feeding studies EU Food Policy - MEPs unhappy with EFSA assessment of Seralini study.

(4) Lawsuit filed against EU authorisation of genetically engineered soybeans Environmental organisations and scientists jointly bring the case to the European Court of Justice -- partly based on the failure of EFSA to consider combinatorial effects in stacked events.

(5) Gilles-Eric Séralini, Emilie Clair, Robin Mesnage, Steeve Gress, Nicolas Defarge, Manuela Malatesta, Didier Hennequin, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois "Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize" Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 50, Issue 11, November 2012, Pages 4221-4231

(6) EFSA -- hypocrisy, double standards and dodgy dealing on Seralini paper‎ Seralini and Science: an Open Letter

(7) Revealed: how EFSA staff orchestrated "official" rebuttals of Seralini research EFSA -- hypocrisy, double standards and dodgy dealing on Seralini paper

(8) Antoniou M, Habib MEM, Howard CV, Jennings RC, Leifert C, Nodari RO, Robinson CJ, Fagan J (2012) Teratogenic Effects of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides: Divergence of Regulatory Decisions from Scientific Evidence. J Environ Anal Toxicol S4:006. doi:10.4172/2161-0525.S4-006. Glypho-gate by Sheldon Krimsky, with Gilles-Eric Séralini, Robin Mesnage, and Benoît Bernay

(9) de Vendômois JS, Roullier F, Cellier D, Séralini GE. A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health. Int J Biol Sci 2009; 5(7):706-726. doi:10.7150/ijbs.5.706. Available from Robinson, C (2103) Don't look, don't find: Health hazards of genetically modified food. CAND Vital Link, Volume 20(1):17-24.

(10) Roundup Maize: NK603 (Monsanto): Testbiotech Report

(11) US State Dept is Monsanto's global marketing arm Sunday, 19 May 2013 23:01 Biotech Ambassadors report – EU version: Monsanto and other GM firms are winning in the US – and globally Wenonah Hauter, The Guardian, 14 May 2013 Plenary Sitting, 25.4.201 B7‑0000/2013 MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION to wind up the debate on the statement by the Commission pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure on EU trade and investment negotiations with the United States of America (2013/2558(RSP)) Vital Moreira on behalf of the Committee on International Trade