A new report from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) indicates the pesticide industry has all but taken over regulatory agencies on a global scale. Specifically, the report is focused on the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA)—a panel within the World Health Organization– and its failure to implement an order by the European Commission to investigate the cumulative risk assessment (CRA) of pesticide mixtures.
If you were to choose a panel to soundly investigate the safety of a product, it wouldn’t make sense to choose people who were financial or otherwise invested in that product, would it? But that’s exactly what has happened to the pesticide panel at the World Health Organization and around the world as regulatory agencies are being infiltrated by industry connections—furthering the agendas of these giant corporations to the demise of consumer safety.
A bit of background: Generally, pesticides are tested independently of one another, and pesticide companies have resisted efforts to analyze their reactions together—simulating what occurs in human bodies. You don’t only take in a single pesticide, but a pesticide cocktail each day from the various fruits and vegetables you eat. It’s the long term and cumulative effects of pesticides that experts believe are the most harmful, effects that have not been studied on a large scale basis because of lack of funding and resistance from the industry.
The European Commission ordered the EFSA to incorporate CRA as standard pesticide evaluation in 2005, but the agency has yet to do anything about it. Why? It’s all in who they know, or better yet: who they are.
The PAN investigation revealed 73% of the panelists on the WHO-EFSA were in some way tied to the pesticide industry. Further, none of them disclosed those conflicts of interest before accepting their panel positions.
“Eight years after the EU mandated such risk assessments for pesticide residues in food, EFSA still fails to carry them out, leaving consumers and citizens unprotected against the harms of mixtures of pesticides in food,” the report reads.
“We wondered how it was possible that EFSA neglected its mission to protect people’s health for so many years. We learned that massive infiltration by industry linked academics within the authority’s scientific panels was the main cause.”
“A Poisonous Injection: How Industry Tries to Water Down the Risk Assessment of Pesticide Mixtures in Everyday Food,” (available here as a pdf), examines what they call a “well planned and orchestrated attempt of industry to undermine policies meant to evaluate the toxicity of chemical mixtures.”
While agencies like the EFSA are painted as scientifically-legitimate and even paramount to other non-governmental bodies, they lack both professionalism and scientific integrity. By selling out to the pesticide industry, they have become nothing more than powerful puppets for the corporations holding the strings.