NGO backlash to Chief Scientific Advisor position grows

More European non-profit groups have thrown their weight behind a call by Greenpeace and HEAL for the European Commission to scrap the position of its Science Tsar, Anne Glover, in a letter sent to the incoming EU president, Jean-Claude Juncker, which EurActiv has seen.

By Arthur Neslen


A previous missive by nine, mostly environmental, NGOs sent to Juncker on 22 July provoked accusations that green groups were trying to shoot a science-based messenger who had occasionally taken advocacy positions that, for instance, favoured GMOs.

Now 13 more non-profit groups – including heavy-hitters such as Friends of the Earth – have added their names to the call, citing a statement by Glover reported in EurActiv earlier this month that her advice should remain “not transparent” and immune from public scrutiny, as cause for concern.

“Scientific scrutiny in policymaking is essential,” said Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU. “The question is how to ensure that the best representation of wide-ranging advice is available to you and your colleagues. The CSA position does not help and cannot fulfill this purpose because of the fundamental flaws of the role itself.”

Juncker must soon decide whether to keep Glover’s Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) role, which was established by his predecessor, President José Manuel Barroso.

The NGOs letter argues that he should abolish it because objectivity and advice requires a diversity of sources, and a consistent response to scientific evidence, such as that presented by the Commission’s own Joint Research Center (JRC).

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