PAN EuropeNews


Press Release

15th October 2013

3 Million Euro EU subsidy for food industry to promote the lowering of food standards

Today European food traders organization Freshfel and a few national institutes present the results of the program ACROPOLIS on the so-called 'probabilistic risk assessment' of mixtures of pesticide residues in food. ACROPOLIS was granted approximately 3 million euro's from the EU research Framework program to develop a tool to establish safe levels for the daily mixture of pesticide residues in food to which all European consumers are exposed to. But project leader Jacob van Klaveren – who has strong ties with industry and EU Food Authority EFSA - acknowledges that the project is primarily meant “to prove that pesticide use is safe [1].

Probabilistic risk assessment is a statistical tool calculating the probability consumers have to get exposed to a too high doses of a combination of pesticide residues. It is based on unrealistic assumptions such as that people buy food in every shop in their entire country. And the tool, conveniently, allows for a part of the consumers to get exposed above safety limits and not being protected. Exposing people to unsafe levels of pesticides is a violation of the pesticides Regulation providing that pesticides "shall not have any harmful effects on human health, and in particular vulnerable groups” (Art.4). The tool advocated for by the food traders would mean that combination effects of pesticides (cumulative effects) can be easily qualified as acceptable and the provision in the Regulation to protect people against mixture effects turned into a 'dead letter'.

PAN Europe finds it unacceptable that the European Commission and EFSA support these technically flawed industry-proposals and put the interests of industry first, neglecting the protection of public health. PAN Europe already this summer advised Health Commissioner Borg [2] not to accept the tool and is still waiting for an answer.

Remarkable on the ACROPOLIS-program is both the 'dual roles' of people involved as well as their links to industry. The same experts in panels of EFSA have a prominent role in this program while they are clearly linked to industry and industry lobby group ILSI (Int. Life Sciences Inst.). The program is managed by Jacob van Klaveren from a Dutch institute [3]. First he was part of an EFSA working group advising to use the tool 'probabilistic risk assessment' and now is taking advantage of his own proposal. PAN Europe Chemicals Officer Hans Muilerman comments on this strange ‘coincidence’: This is a clear case of  'dual roles' and of biased opinions. Van Klaveren has close ties with industry and ILSI [4]. More people with strong links to industry who managed to be part of EFSA-panels, such as Angelo Moretto and Alan Boobis (ILSI board of trustees) [5], are also involved in the ACROPOLIS program.  

— ENDS —

Further information

3. He used to work for RIKILT, an institute with many industry contractors and moved during the programme to the national institute RIVM (institute for health and environment).

4. He worked on the ILSI-program FOSIE, Food and Chemical Toxicology 40 (2002) 327–385, with industry consultants such as Kroes and Kleiner.

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, Tel: +316 55807255

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