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EU-turn: Greenpeace pressure WON'T mean axing of Chief Scientist

'There's no scientific consensus', say lentil noshers

After months of mixed signals and confusion it appears that the European Commission will make a U-turn and keep the role of Chief Science Advisor.

Last November, Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) Anne Glover revealed that the Commish planned to scrap the role, which is “to provide independent expert advice on any aspect of science, technology and innovation” to the EC's president.

However, according to Blighty MEPs, the Commish veep Frans Timmermans told a meeting of the European Conservatives and Reformists in Strasbourg earlier this week that the job would not be axed.

“I am delighted that the Commission has seen sense and reinstated this crucial post," said Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan. "The role of science has never been more important and for the EU to have done away with its Chief Scientist would have been hugely damaging and sent all the wrong signals."

The Commission has not yet made a formal statement but the decision to scrap the role, which has existed since 2012, was met with criticism last year. That decision in turn seems to have come following pressure from green activist groups who disapproved of Glover’s stance on GM crops.

Activists had maintained that the crops should be banned even if scientific advice says the technology is safe. Professor Glover, a molecular and cell biologist, had advocated for the approval of GM crops in the EU where scientific evidence backed their use.

According to a letter to the EC from the activists, the CSA “presented one-sided, partial opinions in the debate on the use of genetically modified organisms in agriculture, repeatedly claiming that there was a scientific consensus about their safety". Greenpeace and other lobbyists complained the job “concentrates too much influence in one person.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, EC president, has denied that Glover was axed for political reasons.

Glover’s contract runs out in February, so if the EC does decide to keep the role after all this flip-flopping, it will still need to appoint a new individual. ®


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