Appointments at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are attracting plenty of attention these days, not least from some members of the European Parliament and anti-GM campaigners.
They accuse EFSA of having excessively close links with industry – a theory that was given some impetus when Diána Bánáti, who was the chairwoman of the EFSA, announced that she was joining the International Life Sciences Institute Europe as executive director. She left the EFSA board, and there were disputes about whether she had jumped or was pushed.
A committee of representatives from the EU's member states last week (8 June) rejected three nominations to the EFSA board, including Mella Frewen, director-general of the industry association FoodDrinkEurope. The anti-GM campaigners had objected that Frewen used to be a lobbyist for US biotechnology company Monsanto, which has been known to develop GM crops.
The committee approved seven names, for seven vacancies, which it is expected will be rubber-stamped by the member states' ambassadors to the EU today (14 June).
German centre-right MEP Peter Liese said the decision was “right and very important for the credibility of EFSA”.
Frewen decried the way “the whole process became so politicised” and insisted that EFSA's own founding regulation specifies that people in the food industry should have a place in EFSA.