European Food Safety Authority sued for lack of transparency over pesticides guidance

Brussels

Environmental law organisation ClientEarth and Pesticides Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) have launched a case in the General Court of the European Union against the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The case has been brought because EFSA is not being transparent about decisions that led to guidance on the interpretation of EU law. EFSA’s guidance will allow pesticides used in agriculture to reach the EU market disregarding evidence from independent scientists.

“Current scientific and technical knowledge” is legally necessary when assessing substances that are potentially very toxic to human health and the environment. ClientEarth and PAN Europe believe this can only be guaranteed by taking into account the results of independent research. EFSA's guidance means that industry-financed studies (good laboratory practice, or GLP studies) will be deemed to be more relevant and more reliable than independent science.

ClientEarth and PAN Europe are asking EFSA to be transparent about the way the guidance was drafted to understand how these conclusions were reached, and to make sure that commercial interests did not influence its drafting. Citizens have the right to know how decisions were made that could allow poisons to enter their meals. EFSA's transparency was recently questioned when four EFSA board members were found to be on the payroll of companies with vested interests in their decision making.

The guidance will be used in a very large number of cases by Member States’ public authorities in authorisation procedures for pesticides. This will affect a large number of people and it may allow potentially harmful substances to reach people’s food and to be sprayed in the environment.

Vito Buonsante, Health and environment lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “EFSA’s guidance will lead to independent science being disregarded on a huge scale; with seriously hazardous results. Laws are in place to safeguard the health of EU citizens from dangerous poisons. It is essential that decisions having an immediate effect on citizens’ health are subjected to the highest standards of public accountability and transparency.”

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Background notes:

PAN Europe Application to General Court

For further information please contact:

ClientEarth communications office George Leigh:
t. + 44 (0) 203 030 5951; m. + 44 (0)7538 418 460; e. gleigh [at] clientearth.org

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