In March 2008, “before the beginning of the French Presidency of the European Commission”, Jean-Louis Borloo asked Corinne Lepage to steer the second part of her report towards the evolutions of European Laws in relation to the evaluation of new technologies and nanotechnologies. Thus, this report of about 60 pages points out many issues in relation to the evaluation of GMOs at a European level:
- Questions on the dilution of responsibility as far as risk management is concerned: the present comitology procedure encourages bodies that ought to be in charge of risk management such as the Commission or State Members to entrust this role to the Scientific Assessment Body, EFSA.
- The lack of transparency in the procedure (in particular the appointment of the experts) and the issue of the data being classified under “industrial secrecy”.
- An absence of debate on the interest of an authorization at a societal level, the taking in account of socio-economic considerations in the assessment, and the absence of representatives from civil society organizations within EFSA.
- No taking into account of the long-term effects, contrary to what is required in the Directive.
- The non-contradictory character of the expertise: in this respect, Corinne Lepage recommends copying exactly the procedure of the legal model (the authorization applicant vs a party opposed to the granting of the authorization, each defending their position in the dossier, before an open and balanced expert commission).
Corinne Lepage also advocates for the expert’s liability, as well as paying the experts rather than refunding their expenses. She also recommends that they give up the consensual character of their opinions by voting within the expertise commission.
On 5 June 2008, France presented potential evolution avenues in the legislation, and more specifically in terms of assessment, before the other European Ministers of the Environment, with the firm intention of pursuing this reflection throughout the French Presidency of the EU.
But will Corinne Lepage’s recommendations be taken into account?