The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has invited Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas to a meeting to brief him on EFSA’s scientific and procedural approach to food safety issues, following the concerns the Commissioner raised in a recent speech over the risk assessment of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
In the meeting, EFSA said it would also like to discuss the issues raised in the EFSA evaluation report on practices concerning risk assessment referred to by the Commissioner in his speech at the recent conference on GMO co-existence in Vienna.
Addressing the conference on 5 April, Dimas expressed concerns about the quality of information available on the long-term health and environmental effects and of GMOs.
He said that while the EFSA had considered the short-term consequences of licensing GMOs, it had failed to address the long-term effects and criticised the agency for being too reliant on data provided by the biotech industry. Dimas suggested that various changes needed to be made to the EFSA’s risk assessment practices.
EFSA said it takes any criticism seriously and invites those who may not agree with the opinions to debate scientific issues in an open way.
The agency also pointed out that it had a meeting with NGOs in February in Parma, and has invited national experts to participate in a meeting on GMO risk assessment and the input of member states in this process in May in Brussels.
EFSA added that from the middle of last year it had begun to take steps to bring greater transparency to its scientific assessment, involving both member states and stakeholders. EFSA also decided to expand its guidance document on GMOs to give more explanatory details.