In a report published on October 23, 2013 the Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), a non-governmental research and campaign organization investigating corporate influence, found the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) new independence policy dysfunctional. The organization found 122 out of 209 experts to have at least one conflict of interest with the commercial segment. Only the Panel on Plant Health (PLH) is not dominated by experts with such conflicts of interest, CEO states. The organization details in the report that the proportion of independent over dependent experts did not improve in newly constituted panels. The new report concludes that EFSA’s rules of independence are not sufficiently rigorous and criticizes that the agency relies on the self-assessment of its experts. Finally, CEO concludes that there is an insufficient understanding of the practical consequences of conflicts of interest wtihin EFSA. In contrast to the traditional understanding of infiltration and corruption, the taking of subtle influence over the course of time is the real concern regarding conflicts of interests among EFSA experts, according to CEO. In conclusion, CEO points out that some of the issues arise from structural problems including the fact that EFSA’s expert are unpaid and rely on studies carried out by the producers themselves rather than the agency or independent scientists. CEO carried out its analysis on the basis of those conflicts of interest declared on the web page of EFSA.
Corporate Europe Observatory (October 23, 2013). “Unhappy meal. The European Food Safety Authority’s independence problem.”