Organic Consumers Association

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Scientists’ Ties to Food Industry Raise Questions in Europe

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Food Safety Research Center page.

 LONDON - One scientist who advised Europe's food safety regulators about animal feed additives sits on the board of a foundation backed by the dairy industry.

Another who gave advice on food contaminants received research support from lobbyists for the American and European chemical industries.

A third scientist who headed an advisory panel on nutrition and dietetic products presided for years over the management board of an industry-backed research group.

Nearly 60 percent of the scientists used as consultants by the European Food Safety Authority, or E.F.S.A., have direct or indirect ties to industries regulated by the agency, according to a report from the Corporate Europe Observatory, an advocacy group that criticizes corporate influence on public policy.

The authority oversees food safety in the 28-nation European Union, a role similar to that of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, or at least the "food" part of it. While the European agency has long been assailed as relying on scientists with perceived conflicts of interest, it says it has taken steps to address the issue.

But consumer advocates say those steps have not gone far enough.

"Everyone eating food in Europe is affected by its decisions," said the report, which was provided in advance to The New York Times and the French newspaper Le Monde. "A much clearer, simpler and stricter independence policy needs to be set up and rigorously implemented."     
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