Select Committee on Food Standards First Report


Submitted by Robert Vint


  The present Government has often spoken of the importance of involving all stakeholders in decision-making yet, with the onset of the GM crisis, it became clear that there was much public concern about the imbalance in the interests represented on several key government select committees and advisory committees. Commercial interests seemed predominant and the interests of consumers, of the environment and of Third World peoples seemed to be unrepresented on most of these.

  In the light of this concern, what steps have been taken to ensure balanced stakeholder participation in the Food Standards Committee? In particular, I would like to know:

  1. What are the declared interests (financial, professional, personal, etc.,) of the 13 existing members of the Select Committee in the biotechnology industry?

  2. What selection procedure took place to ensure that the interests of effected parties—consumers, the environment and the peoples of the Third World—would be represented in the appointment of committee members? What selection procedures will take place in future.

  3. Were any of the largest NGOs representing these stakeholders approached to recommend scientists or other representatives as members of the committee? Are there plans to do so?

  4. What steps have been taken to remedy any imbalances in the make-up of the committee resulting from past failures to ensure balanced stakeholder participation? What steps have been proposed for the future?

  5. Are concerned parties (such as the major NGOs) informed of agenda items in advance of meetings—or are they, as a matter of course, consulted on relevant issues prior to the issuing of recommendations? Are there any plans to do so?

March 1998

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Prepared 12 April 1999