In The News — 26 November 2014

Last week the newly appointed President of the European Commission (EC), Jean-Claude Juncker, decided to not reappoint Anne Glover to Chief Scientific Advisor to the EC and trash the position all together. Critics of Glover did not like how she gave advice to the EC; using facts instead of telling people what they wanted to hear or what was politically popular.

This position was created in 2012 by the past President of the EC, José Manuel Barroso, to, “provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation.” Her other responsibilities included coordinating science and technology foresights, acting as a liaison with other scientific advisory bodies of the EU commission and conveying the relevance of science to the general public.

Last year at a conference, Glover argued there is no scientific evidence that GMOs are less safe of a food source than foods grown in other ways, describing the opposition as, “a form of madness”. This stirred up a lot of controversy led by activist groups like Greenpeace, who were in favor of abolishing the position.

Greenpeace argued in a letter to Juncker, “The current Chief Scientific Advisor presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety.”

Juncker has not made a decision on how he will establish independent scientific advice to counsel the EU Commission yet, “Glover has been dismissed at a time when there has never been a broader scientific consensus about the safety of agricultural biotechnology or better data to support that consensus”, says Michael Specter of the New Yorker.

According to Britain’s Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,

“Foods derived from genetically modified crops have been consumed by hundreds of millions of people across the world for more than fifteen years with no reported ill effects.”

Other international institutions that have studied the effects of GMOs such as The World Health Organization and the National Academy of Sciences have also strongly advocated the safety of consuming GM foods.

The European Commission has made a dangerous decision to allow themselves to be ignorant of scientific input in their decision-making.

References:

The New Yorker

European Commission

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Daniel Goldfarb

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