THREE genetically modified products, including a potato, have been sent back for the third time to the European Food Safety Authority for further tests.
The decision to have them reassessed was made by the EU Commission following disagreement between commissioners over their safety and after scientific evidence raised fresh concerns.
EFSA had already declared safe the potato and two maize varieties that contain antibiotics regularly used to fight human illnesses. They have also been asked to assess two maize varieties that produce their own pesticide.
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth described the decision as a vote of no confidence by the Commission in the EFSA, which was established five years ago and has never found against a GM product. The two environmental bodies, however, say the authority is underfunded and understaffed and has to rely on information from the companies that produce the GM products for analysis.
“The result of today’s Commission debate is a clear vote of no confidence in EFSA.
“Asking Europe’s underfunded and inadequate food agency to look at the safety of these crops for the third time is like putting a fox in charge of a hen house,” said Marco Contiero, Greenpeace’s EU/GMO campaign director.
Helen Holder, GMO coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Commissioners are right to reject previous EFSA opinions on the crops, but wrong not to take a decision on the two pesticide maizes. Given the scientific concerns linked with these crops, the dossier should have been rejected today, instead of delaying the process by two years by sending them back to EFSA.”
A spokesperson for the Commission said it had confidence in the scientific advice provided by EFSA. However, it will ask the body to analyse further scientific evidence on the effects on the environment and human health of the potato and hybrid maize that contain an antiobiotic gene.
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