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Commissioner-designate's wishy-washy response very disappointing - Lynn Boylan MEP

30 September, 2014 - by Senator Lynn Boylan

Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan was one of the MEPs asking questions at today's hearing in Brussels of the Health & Food Safety Commissioner-designate, Vytenis Andriukiatus.

Speaking in Brussels this morning the Dublin MEP expressed her exasperation at the half-hearted, non-committed response she obtained from Mr. Andriukiatus:

"My question to the Commissioner-designate highlighted the conflicts of interest in the European Food and Safety Authority. I pointed out the 'revolving doors' atmosphere prevalent, where people who were at one stage working in the food and safety agency deciding which GMOs were to be authorised, then ended up working for the very biotech companies they were previously regulating. This is just one of many examples of the ‘revolving door’ prevalent in European agencies.

"I highlighted to the Commissioner-designate that there is no obligatory 'cooling off' period between appointments to the food and safety agency and jobs in the industry. I asked Mr. Andriukiatus to explain how he would improve the independency structures within the food and safety agency and how he would then enforce those structures.

"The Commissioner-designate's response was wishy-washy to say the least. He was very vague and spoke in general terms about mistrust in scientific opinion. It was a very disappointing response especially when there is an array of recommendations available on this issue from a number of bodies and yet he could give no commitment to any concrete actions, as I had requested.

"I will write to the Commission this week and ask again as to what will be done to improve the conflicts of interest problems at agencies. There are ample recommendations available regarding the issue of conflict of interest. The European Parliament itself has recommended a 2-year cooling off period.

“If Mr. Andriukatis is successful in becoming Commissioner for Health and Food Safety I will hold him to account for these conflicts of interest. I look forward to enlightening the commissioner designate as to the array of recommendations he has at his disposal and look forward to seeing him implement them." 

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