(NaturalNews) The approval process in many countries for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their chemical-based treatment technologies is largely a secretive affair, as the public is typically not made privy to the data used in the decision making process, nor the rationale behind officials' ultimate decision to green-light a particular crop or chemical. But this appears to be changing in Europe, where the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently made public all available data originally submitted by Monsanto in 2003 for the approval of a popular GM corn variety known as NK603.
According to the Nature news blog, EFSA intends to eventually iron out a full-scale plan to make all data on GMOs and chemicals publicly available. But at this point in time, the regulatory body is starting the process by responding to requests from members of the independent scientific community and the public about the details behind NK603's approval. With the exception of "a small amount of commercially confidential information," EFSA has reportedly publicly released all the data submitted by Monsanto for NK603.
"Given the level of public interest, EFSA will make all data on genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 publicly available on its website today (14 January)," explained EFSA in a statement about its new transparency initiative. "While the Authority has already made available these data upon specific request on several occasions, any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to examine and utilize the full data sets used in this risk assessment."
Public has right to know how GMOs, chemicals are approved, says independent authority
The decision falls in line with recommendations made by an independent authority back in September that EFSA enhance transparency in its decision-making processes and build better rapport with its member states, many of whom are strongly against GMOs. Compiled by international auditors Ernst & Young, the recommendations also urged EFSA to improve the clarity of its communications with both the public and the scientific community.
"Independence, transparency and openness are core values upon which the Authority is built and the review acknowledges that our culture and safeguards in this respect are among the most rigorous of any comparable organization," responded EFSA to the recommendations at the time.
Gilles-Eric Seralini, the man responsible for producing the recent study showing that GM corn causes tumors in rats, had earlier given an ultimatum to EFSA to publicly release information on NK603. EFSA had tried to get Seralini to hand over data on his study, but he refused until EFSA agreed to make transparent its own data. Seralini is also reportedly now demanding that EFSA release information on safety studies involving Monsanto's Roundup herbicide formula.