Europe's food watchdog embraces transparency

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Science  23 Oct 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6259, pp. 368
DOI: 10.1126/science.350.6259.368

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Europe's transparency advocates are hoping for a new victory in the battle for the public's right to scrutinize the data behind regulatory decisions. Last year, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in London changed its rules to make public the massive amounts of clinical trial data that it receives as part of marketing applications. The move will allow anyone to see the evidence underpinning EMA's decisions to allow (or reject) medicinal products on the European market. Now, a sister agency in Parma, Italy, says it will follow in EMA's footsteps. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) plans to make public the data it uses to assess whether products such as pesticides, food additives, and genetically modified (GM) crops are safe to use, eat, or grow. "We want to make our data as open as possible and make it reusable," EFSA Executive Director Bernhard Url pledged on 14 October at the opening session of EFSA's second scientific conference here. Industry, however, worries that the openness—which will extend to detailed industry reports—could threaten trade secrets, and some say it could stir unwarranted concerns. EFSA itself cannot decide