European Food Authority: Select Committee Report

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:00 pm on 23rd June 2000.

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Photo of The Earl of Selborne The Earl of Selborne Conservative 1:00 pm, 23rd June 2000

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful response. Indeed, I thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. If nothing else, I believe that we have demonstrated that within the committee we have the ability, indeed the inclination, to challenge every concept that is put to us from different standpoints. I hope the House will agree that the fact that we produced a unanimous report demonstrates that we have achieved a consensus among ourselves. In asking the EFA to achieve a scientific consensus, we are asking it to do what scientists have clearly failed to do thus far; indeed they disagree radically.

I make the point to my noble friend Lord Willoughby de Broke that those who are dubious about how an EFA can add value have only to look at the inconsistency between the advice of the highly regarded UK Food Standards Agency and that of the national organisation in France, which apparently has two quite different scientific views about the safety of British beef. There may be good political reasons for that, which we all understand, but there simply cannot be good scientific reasons. That is why we need a forum in which scientists can test the science objectively. Ultimately, science should not be dictated by policy; policy-makers involved in other considerations may fail to take risk assessment into account.

We were delighted that my noble friend Lord Soulsby of Swaffham Prior was able to speak in the debate. He was the one Back-Bencher to do so who was not a member of the committee. I congratulate my noble friend on his contribution. I congratulate him also on the fact that today is his birthday.