On 28 September the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) held a teleconference with representatives of a few member states (Belgium, Netherlands, France, and Germany) about Seralini's study, in order to reach a joint position – as EFSA put it, "in order to discuss scientific concerns and avoid divergence".
In spite of EFSA's announcement that it has requested additional data from Seralini and will come out with a final opinion soon, it's clear that the outcome is already decided.
Germany already had a position on the study and its risk assessment ministry BfR was well represented in the conference, with three out of the eight member state participants.
Someone from the Scientific Assessment Support Unit of EFSA presented EFSA's conclusions about the study ("poor quality both in terms of reporting and clarity. The conclusions”¦ cannot be supported and”¦ there is no need for re-evaluation of NK603 and glyphosate"). EFSA's position was more or less identical to Germany's:
The Netherlands presented its conclusions, which matched EFSA's.
In France, the food agency ANSES and the Haut Conseil de Biotechnologie (HCB) had been asked to investigate the study's findings. ANSES's independent-minded assessment of the food packaging chemical bisphenol A, which diverged from EFSA's and decided the chemical was risky, seems unlikely to be repeated here, as the minutes note: "criticisms in line with other [member states']".
France had requested historical control data on the strain of rat Seralini used, from the animal supplier, Harlan. This suggests that France will base its assessment of Seralini's study on historical control data – irrelevant data that only serve to create 'noise' and mask the effects of the substance being tested:
Belgium had not decided on the GMO part of the study but agreed with the other member states on glyphosate (no problem with glyphosate).
Astonishingly, Belgium "suggested to write to the editor of the journal [that published Seralini's study] regarding the identified scientific weaknesses".
The response of the other participants to Belgium's offer to bully the journal's editor was that this may not be needed because "the scientific community is already reacting on this issue" and "Elsevier [the publisher] has received a significant number of letters requesting the reconsideration of the reviewing procedure for this paper".
Thanks, no doubt, to the efforts of the Science Media Centre and its well-oiled disinformation machine.
Belgian taxpayers might be interested to know that their hard-earned money was about to be spent on bullying the editor of the journal that published Seralini's study, Food and Chemical Toxicology, presumably into retracting the paper.
It's unclear from the minutes of this EFSA kangaroo court whether other member states, including those that are traditionally skeptical about GM, were also invited to take part in the meeting.
Download the report of the teleconference (in Dutch; minutes in English at the end) here: