Brussels, 11 April 2018. Regarding the declared plans of the European Commission on improvements to risk assessment in the agricultural and food sectors, Thilo Bode, Executive Director of the European consumer organization “foodwatch International”, explains:
“The continued approval of the controversial weed killer glyphosate is exemplary of one thing: It is high time that risk assessment in the agricultural and food sectors no longer serve the interests of corporations, but rather the protection of consumers. Risk assessment must be done consistently according to the precautionary principle as laid out across European treaties. The reversal of the burden of proof must apply when it comes to assessing the safety of a product or substance: If there is scientific evidence of health hazards, no approval should be issued for precautionary reasons – and existing authorisations should be withdrawn. And: All studies, including those of the industry, must be on the table. This has not been the case, as shown in the glyphosate example so far: Even now, Monsanto keeps secret its own studies on the potential dangers of glyphosate.
But risk assessment is not the only area in need of improvement in EU food law. European food law must be revised, so that the recurring scandals – from dioxin to horse meat to fipronil – come to a definitive close.”
Wednesday, 11 April 2018, the European Commission will present an “initiative for transparency and sustainability of risk assessment in the food chain”. The initiative is part of the “Fitness Checks” (regulatory fitness and performance programmes – REFIT), with which the general food law in the European Union, Regulation (EC) 178/2002, is to be revised. These rules were created in response to the BSE crisis and ensure a high level of protection of the citizenry – in theory – against health threats and fraud. However, foodwatch criticises the law’s partial implementation in practice. For example, the clearly defined mandatory traceability of the food chain set forth in the regulation was never enforced. foodwatch demands that this as well as other weaknesses in the law be eliminated in the upcoming REFIT process. foodwatch already laid out detailed requirements to do so last autumn.