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Total secrecy of pesticide studies allows chemical companies to commit mass 'agri-murder' with no scientific scrutiny allowed


(NaturalNews) It is becoming increasingly obvious that cronyism and big money are buying influence among lawmakers on several continents when it comes to scientifically vetting many of the chemicals being used in the world's food supply. That is certainly the case in the United States, where biotech-giants like Monsanto wield far too much sway over agricultural policies, and it is becoming the norm in Europe, as well.

But European officials, at least, are battling back in an effort to scale back the influence of the biotech giants, in favor of doing what is right for agriculture and the global food chain.

As reported by GM Watch, Europe's health and food safety commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, says that his directorate, DG SANTE, is looking into the possibility of requiring full transparency for industry studies of pesticides.

At present, the industry studies submitted to support regulatory mechanisms and authorizations for the use of pesticides are kept under wraps and out of the public's eye, as per corporate confidentiality agreements with regulators. However, Andriukaitis says that policy needs to change, and soon.

"We are ready to assess the legal environment," Andriukaitis said, in reference to certain legal protections in place on industry data. However, he continued, "It's absolutely crystal clear, we need to change today's situation. We see different options, but at the moment, yes, the idea is to change the rules, especially keeping in mind the overriding public interest."

Opposing views on cancer risk

His move came during a press conference that closed the Environment Council meeting on March 4, a discussion that turned to the upcoming vote on Europe's re-authorization of the herbicide glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, and the difference of views on glyphosate's cancer-causing agents between the World Health Organization – which has said it probably does cause cancer – and the European Food Safety Authority, or EFSA.

GM Watch reported further:

"While IARC said that glyphosate is a 'probable' carcinogen, EFSA, basing its view on a report by Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), said it is unlikely to pose a cancer risk. However, while IARC used only data that was in the public domain, BfR based its report on secret industry studies that were unavailable to IARC or to the public."

Andriukaitis spoke in response to an inquiry by a journalist who asked him whether the commissioner agreed that, in light of the debate over glyphosate, there was an overriding public interest argument for full transparency of all industry studies, to include presentation of the raw data, likely for further evaluation by other researchers. Currently there are only summaries of studies available, and then only through government regulatory agencies. Increasingly, there are questions being raised about the agencies' interpretations of the industry data, meaning that any doubts can only be resolved by making the data public, and allowing it to be scrutinized independently.

Transparency a problem in America, too – think Monsanto

In addition to other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and scientists, GM Watch says it has consistently argued for more transparency of regulatory data on agricultural and environmental chemicals for many years. "The public cannot be expected to take on trust claims of safety for pesticides when they are based on secret studies carried out or commissioned by the very same companies that stand to profit from the sale of those pesticides," the advocacy group says.

"The pharmaceutical industry has had to accept the policy of the European Medicines Agency to make clinical trials data public," GMWatch noted further. "The time is long overdue for the pesticide industry to follow suit. Andriukaitis's statement may represent the first cracks in the wall of secrecy that surrounds and protects pesticide approvals."

Lack of transparency in research that guides governmental policy-making is also a problem in the U.S.

In November, NaturalNews reported that, "Monsanto-funded scientists are calling for an end to Freedom of Information Act requests after they were ousted for colluding with the biotech industry to push GMOs and their associated pesticides."






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