19th December 2012
Network of industry agents uncovered in Food Authority EFSA
A new PAN Europe report reveals that 10 out of 13 members of the EFSA working group on TTC (Threshold of Toxicological Concern, a method to decide on the health impacts of chemicals), have a conflict of interest. TTC is an industry-driven approach and these members have been developing or promoting this method in the past jointly with industry. The interlinking of these people shows they are operating as a network.
Not surprisingly, the ‘independent’ assessment by EFSA of the usefulness of TTC was very positive. It is like asking Coca Cola to do an independent assessment of Coca Cola products. Industry's interest can be explained by the massive cost reductions TTC will bring if chemicals of unknown toxicity will be deemed safe below a certain exposure threshold. In these cases, expensive safety testing will not be needed anymore and market access is granted quickly.
The analysis made by PAN Europe shows that the 10 EFSA working group members all have ties to industry or industry lobby club ILSI (International Life Science Institute) by direct contracts, formal positions or joint publications. This means that EFSA does not take her self-declared independency seriously. Even EFSA staff is part of an ILSI taskforce. In addition, only three members of the working group are actively publishing scientists which raises serious questions about the scientific quality of the EFSA opinion.
Susan Barlow, an UK consultant, is the most visible promoter of TTC on the working group. She has been working for ILSI to promote TTC and was at the same time active in EFSA and linked to many other panel people in EFSA with ties to industry. Corrado Galli, an Italian professor, helped developing TTC from the beginning and was co-author of the original ILSI-papers. Alan Boobis, UK professor and for many years chair of the board of trustees at ILSI has been promoting a clear industry agenda in EFSA opinions, including the TTC method.
Hans Muilerman of PAN Europe says “many of the working group members have jobs as civil servants or university professors but their publications and ILSI-affiliations show that they actively defend industry positions to reduce costs of testing and ease the approval of chemicals. It is a pity that EFSA’s new ‘independence’ policy adopted by its Management Board this week will still allow conflicts of interest as it does not ban industry links for panel members”
PAN Europe advises EFSA to put a halt to the work of the TTC working group and remove all people linked to industry or industry lobby club ILSI from her panels.
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Background information on the proven benefits of delivering sustainable agricultural practices, see :
- 'PANE - A Toxic Mixture? - Industry bias found in EFSA working group on risk assessment for toxic chemicals', published in December 2012
For further information please contact:
Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe, firstname.lastname@example.org,Tel: +31 (0)6-55807255.