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4 Jul 2016

News: European research organisations call upon the European Parliament to encourage society to respect independent science advice and to condemn physical attacks on scientists

On 7th June, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma received a package containing explosive material addressed to a scientist of its panel of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). EFSA was created in 2002 to analyze the risks associated with the food chain through expert panels, independent scientists chosen based on their scientific expertise for periods of four years. One of these panels analyzes the risks associated to genetically modified organisms (GMOs). A large group of publicly funded researchers reacted strongly to this incident in EFSA and decided to send an open letter to the President of the European Parliament. Scientists believe that and other recent attacks are not only attacks on individual scientists performing their duties for an agency of the European Union, and thereby serving the citizens of the EU; they are also attacks on our open and transparent society and on the scientific and intellectual process.


In the letter to President Martin Schulz, researchers are calling on the European Parliament to encourage society to respect independent scientific advice and to condemn unanimously and unconditionally the recent attacks on EFSA, reiterating its support for independent scientific research and investigation. The letter also calls for measures to prevent attacks against scientists and/or research facilities.


The letter, which was sent to the European Parliament last July 1st is signed by 35 organizations, societies and academies.  Today, the letter is published on the website of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO). An updated Open Letter allowing additional science organisations which already announced their support to sign will be published online on Monday 11 July.


EFSA operates independently of the European legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) and EU Member States. EFSA also has a duty to communicate its scientific findings to the public.