Petitions One of the fundamental rights of European citizens: Any citizen, acting individually or jointly with others, may at any time exercise his right of petition to the European Parliament under Article 194 of the EC Treaty.
Any citizen of the European Union, or resident in a Member State, may, individually or in association with others, submit a petition to the European Parliament on a subject which comes within the European Union's fields of activity and which affects them directly. Any company, organisation or association with its headquarters in the European Union may also exercise this right of petition, which is guaranteed by the Treaty.
A petition may take the form of a complaint or a request and may relate to issues of public or private interest.
The petition may present an individual request, a complaint or observation concerning the application of EU law or an appeal to the European Parliament to adopt a position on a specific matter. Such petitions give the European Parliament the opportunity of calling attention to any infringement of a European citizen's rights by a Member State or local authorities or other institution.
What action is taken in the case of admissible petitions?
If the subject of your petition concerns an area of activity of the European Union it will normally be declared admissible by the Committee on Petitions, which will then decide what type of action should be taken, according to the Rules of Procedure.
Whatever is decided, the Committee on Petitions will inform you as soon as possible after the decision has been reached.
Depending on the circumstances, the Committee on Petitions may:
• ask the European Commission to conduct a preliminary investigation and provide information regarding compliance with relevant Community legislation or contact SOLVIT,
• refer the petition to other European Parliament committees for information or further action (a committee might, for example, take account of a petition in its legislative activities),
• in some exceptional cases prepare and submit a full report to Parliament to be voted upon in plenary ; or conduct a fact-finding visit to the country or region concerned and issue a Committee report containing its observations and recommendations;
• or take any other action considered appropriate to try to resolve an issue or deliver a suitable response to the petitioner. Meetings of the Committee on Petitions take place every month, as a rule, except during the month of August when Parliament is in recess. The Committee is assisted in its work by a permanent secretariat which manages the petitions process, has an advisory role and which prepares meetings of the Committee.
The Petitions Committee of the European Parliament may seek to cooperate with national or local authorities in Member States to resolve an issue raised by a petitioner. Details of petitions may therefore be shared with such authorities unless the petitioner specifically objects.
The Petitions Committee cannot, however, override decisions taken by competent authorities within Member States. As the European Parliament is not a judicial authority: it can neither pass judgement on, nor revoke decisions taken by, the Courts of law in Member States. Petitions seeking such courses of action are inadmissible.
That's the theory -- now for the reality......(1) Petition, (2) EC Response,(3) Rejoinder (4) Commission Reply, 1 Sept 2009, (5) 2nd rejoinder from BSJ (23 March 2010). So in addition to the original Petition there are now 2 Commission responses and two rejoinders from me.
Name: Brian John Postal Address: Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire SA42 0QN, Wales, UK Nationality: Welsh Hosting MEP: Kathy Sinnott, MEP Ireland South Title of Petition: The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens
Text of Petition (No. 0813/2008):
The European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) was designed to improve food safety in the EU, to restore the faith of EU citizens in EU food and guarantee consumer protection. As such, EFSA claims to provide "independent scientific advice [which] underpins the European food safety system". As citizens who should be served by this remit of EFSA we petition the European Parliament today because we see that the modus operandi of EFSA means it cannot be neutral or independent and thus violates the rights of all EU consumers to clean, safe and healthy food.
It is our assertion that EFSA does not operate according to EU law, namely Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety. In addition principles of European Consumer Law are being disregarded, and priorities laid down in the Sixth Framework Programme (2000-2006): food quality and safety (2002/835/EC).
As an independent risk assessor, EFSA should not base its assessments of GM foods and crops on "advocacy science" submitted by applicants, which is by definition partial, selective and biased. Yet it continues to do so, despite the fact that some such science may also be fraudulent, since the application dossiers from GM corporations and patent owners cannot be examined in full by members of the public and by independent scientists and thus cannot be subjected to a proper process of peer review. Thus when dossiers are assembled, companies can simply omit "inconvenient" findings; they can also "manufacture" favourable results by the aggregation of data with a view to masking effects, by the use of insensitive testing techniques, by statistical manipulation, and by careful experimental design. Such practices are fraudulent, and they place Europeans at risk since GM crops and foods cleared as "safe" on the basis of dossier evidence may in fact be dangerous.
Furthermore, and more importantly, the science which is assessed by EFSA is for the most part non-replicable science which should never be admitted as valid, let alone considered in detail and acted upon. It is a fundamental principle of science that all experiments must be replicable if scientific fraud is to be avoided -- and yet EFSA never asks for replicability. (It has occasionally asked for supplementary evidence, but never for full independent replication of experiments.) Those who apply for approvals for GM crops and foods systematically block research by refusing to supply GM seeds, reference materials and chow for animal feeding experiments by independent scientists or institutions; this means that the dossier experiments cannot be replicated or improved, and that results cannot be verified or questioned. In Hungary, for example, Monsanto refused to supply MON810 seed to Professor Darvas and colleagues as soon as their research started to throw up negative environmental effects. Another example is in France, where Monsanto refused to supply MON863 materials for experiments designed to replicate or test the results reported in the MON863 dossier. Both examples clearly violate the terms under which EFSA operates namely Article 38 (concerning Transparency) of Regulation 178/2002 Section 4.
These concerns lead us to ask that the Parliament instruct EFSA to enforce the highest standards of scientific ethics in its own GMO Panel and in the dossiers of GM applicants, thereby safeguarding the health of citizens as per its original remit. We ask that EFSA be instructed to insist on full and early release of all scientific data contained in dossiers, and to insist on signed declarations from applicants relating to replicability, so as to enable a full and independent verification (or falsification) of apparent findings.
As EU citizens with rights we are being discriminated against by EFSA who, rather than protecting us, are supporting the commercial ambitions of the GM companies and "enabling" their approvals. We wish to emphasize the fact that there are no benefits to consumers in terms of taste, quality, shelf-life, price, and nutritional value of GM crops and foods -- the only benefits are to farmers wishing to reduce labour costs and spend less by using chemicals, and to the companies that own the seed and sell the herbicides / pesticides. It is valid for certain EU institutions, such as those involved in trade and agriculture, to support these corporate ambitions but EFSA should represent citizens and not business interests. EFSA exists to provide a service to EU citizens and the European institutions, and it must therefore treat consumers as its number one priority. It is our view that the current modus operandi of EFSA fails to do this, implying that EFSA has breached its responsibility to European consumers and to Regulation 178/2002 Section 4: Article 37-40 on Independence, Transparency, Confidentiality and Communication.
Kathy Sinnott MEP will be the hosting MEP for this petition.