PAN EuropeNews


Press Release

4th Februari 2014

Massive industry network uncovered in EFSA and WHO trying to stop the new policy on stricter food standards for pesticide mixtures; first ever example of EU Commission fighting back.

PAN Europe research reveals a covered multi-year orchestrated industry lobby to stop adopted policy to protect people against the harms of everyday consumption of pesticide mixtures. A network of industry-linked experts infiltrated scientific panels at all relevant levels. 52% of the experts working for the European Food Authority EFSA on the effects of mixtures of pesticides in food appear to have industry-ties while even 73% of the experts working for World Health Organisation WHO on the same topic have strong industry-ties. This industry network also gathers in the EU-funded programme Acropolis to develop additional tools to water-down the rules. After many years have been wasted, an intervention by Health DG SANCO finally forced EFSA to make a U-turn.

PAN Europe research was triggered by an unprecedented delay at EFSA of more than 8 years to start implementing the 2005-EU pesticide residue Directive. EU citizens are every day exposed to dozens of mixtures of pesticides in their food [1] and EFSA had to present the methods to implement the politically agreed protection. It now appears that the industry network infiltrating agencies is one of the main reasons for the delay and that the infiltration happened not only at EFSA but at all relevant levels, WHO, OECD, EFSA, and EU research.

WHO could be totally dominated by industry, and 5 of the 6 authors of the WHO-framework had strong industry-links. Industry experts developed a methodology that suggested that no mixture toxicity would occur in practice. They found fertile ground for their ideas with several civil servants present in the EFSA panel who also regarded mixture toxicity as irrelevant. This is in strong contrast to academic literature with a wealth of evidence for effects of mixtures [2].

Only after intervention of DG SANCO in 2011, EFSA had to change course. Still the EFSA pesticide panel resisted and in 2012 EFSA management decided to withdraw the mandate from the panel. While more than 6 years is wasted on useless EFSA opinions, a U-turn now is made at EFSA to an approach to take common adverse effects into account. Still the final outcome is unsure. Industry doesn't give up and developed new tools to undermine the protection in a EU research framework program called Acropolis. Industry's idea is to allow a certain level of harm to keep the current food standards in place and to not protect people fully.

PAN Europe feels it is a shame what happened. Political decisions are reversed by civil servants and industry infiltrators. WHO and EFSA therefore both have to strengthen their conflicts of interest policy. They should also create a unit with a  'science integrity officer' -just as the US-EPA-preventing infiltration efforts and unfair pressure from whatever side and create in EFSA/WHO staff and panels a culture of scientific integrity and professional development.

— ENDS —

Further information and contacts:

1., 2010-monitoring report, page 110: 26,6% of all fruit and vegetables consumed in Europe contain more than 1 pesticide residue

2. Nissanka Rajapakse, Elisabete Silva, and Andreas Kortenkamp, Combining Xenoestrogens at Levels below Individual No-Observed-Effect Concentrations Dramatically Enhances Steroid Hormone Action, Environmental Health Perspectives, VOLUME 110, NUMBER 9, September 2002

For further information please contact:

Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe Chemicals Coordinator,, Mobile: 00316-55807255

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