S&Ds: is public food safety a must to the EU? If so, EFSA needs to be dramatically better staffed and funded

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Agriculture & Food
Health & Consumers
Following a two-day PEST committee facts-finding mission to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) headquarters in Parma, the S&Ds can assess with no doubts that EFSA is dramatically under staffed and poorly funded. This could affect the capability and the efficiency of the controls over possible noxious substances on human health, the food chain and on the environment.
 
PEST committee chair, S&D MEP Eric Andrieu, commented:
 
“Public food safety, transparency and independence from private interests - are these top priorities, a must to the EU? Definitely yes!
 
“To achieve these crucial purposes, is the EU Authority for food safety (EFSA) well staffed and resourced? Definitely not!
 
“Under the current situation, EFSA is simply not capable of running its own assessments over all the possible threats to human health potentially caused by toxic, carcinogenic and noxious substances affecting animals and environment.
 
“We certainly welcome the European Commission’s proposal to increase the current EFSA budget by over 60 million euros per year. However, this additional money is earmarked for new tasks, while EFSA firstly needs more funds for its core activities.
 
This proposal - that member states should fully support - could help EFSA to be less dependent on member states’ experts, or even private researches and risk assessments. No doubts can occur here: possible conflict of interests or lack of transparency must be eradicated.”
 
PEST committee member, S&D MEP Simona Bonafè, added:
 
“Citizens’ health rights and public interests come first, always! This has, however, a price, a cost, to be commonly paid by the EU and all member states. It is, at the end, a matter of political will and priorities. Do we want live up to European citizens’ expectations for a more efficient and reinforced control system on the whole food chain?
 
“EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, must therefore be dramatically reinforced in terms of staff, funds and evaluation and assessment capabilities.
 
“There is no other possible way forward. We cannot point the finger at the EU whilst the member states are not adequately investing in food security controls.