Chair quits European food safety watchdog for role with GM lobby group

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The chair of the European Food Safety Authority, Diana Banati, has been forced to resign over a potential conflict of interest.

Banati told the EFSA she was leaving to become executive and scientific director at the International Life Sciences Institute, a pro-GM body where she sat on the board until 2010.

The EFSA had previously defended Bánáti that year, when it faced criticism for re-electing her as chair despite her links to ILSI.

At the time, the watchdog dismissed calls for her resignation from Green MEP José Bové, saying “the board deplores the unfounded attacks on the independence of EFSA and its chair”.

Pressure has been rising on the EFSA to stamp out conflicts of interest in recent months. In December the European Union ombudsman criticised it following the recruitment by a biotech company of former GM regulator Dr Suzy Renckens – just two months after she left the EFSA.

In March, the EFSA responded by implementing new rules on declarations of interest.

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