European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Chair Diana Banati has reportedly dismissed conflict-of-interest allegations arising from her involvement with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), a public health nonprofit whose membership includes academic, government and industry scientists. According to Greens MEP José Bové, Banati failed to disclose her industry ties as an ILSI board member when installed at EFSA. “The commission should never have approved her appointment given her clear links to the food industry, which is completely at odds with the need for independence at the EFSA,” Bové was quoted saying. “There can be no alternative but to replace Banati as chair of the EFSA.”
Bové has purportedly raised the issue to cast doubt on EFSA’s credibility as the European Commission looks to reform both the food safety body and the approval process for genetically modified organisms. A Banati spokesperson, however, has publicly denied the claims, noting that the chair’s cooperation with ILSI was known at the time of her confirmation. “Banati does not have an active role in the institute and her appointment as EFSA chair has nothing to do with EFSA itself,” stated her representative, adding that Banati will not resign over the protest. See GM Watch, Le Monde and The Parliament, September 30, 2010.