SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food & Beverage Development - EuropeUS edition | Asian edition

Headlines > Science & Nutrition

New EFSA chief commits to, ‘opening up its scientific processes’

Post a comment

By Shane Starling+

21-Jul-2014
Last updated on 21-Jul-2014 at 15:49 GMT

“In the coming months, input from the public consultation will feed into finalisation of a new Open EFSA policy and follow-up plan.”
“In the coming months, input from the public consultation will feed into finalisation of a new Open EFSA policy and follow-up plan.”

EFSA’s new chief Dr Bernhard Url said greater transparency at the Parma-based agency can boost trust and deliver better opinions.

“EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] is committed to opening up its scientific processes to the widest possible extent and to being more understandable to its partners, stakeholders and the public at large,” Dr Url said last week.

“I believe that not only will this make EFSA more accountable and trusted, but it can also result in more comprehensive, more understandable and better focused scientific advice for decision-makers.”

From various meetings dating back to 2013, the 14-year-old agency noted it has received more than 60 suggestions to improve transparency measures. A summary of those can be found here along with a summary of how the agency seeks to achieve greater transparency, “over the coming years.”

“EFSA wants feedback particularly on these key aspects of the paper and welcomes comments from national partners, other scientific advisory bodies, civil society organisations and other stakeholders as well as experts and practitioners in the field of open government and open science.”

“In the coming months, input from the public consultation will feed into finalisation of a new Open EFSA policy and follow-up plan.”

Transparency limits

Yet the idea of total transparency is not without its opaque edges. Some scientists working on the agency’s various panels have expressed the view that having observers in meetings, for example, would inhibit the scientific debate.  

Professor Sean Strain

Professor Sean Strain of Ulster University, a Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) member, told us recently that observed meetings could inhibit panelists and raised the question of observer influence.

Scientific panels must, "be blind to the needs of the industry and be blind to the needs of the consumer - this is in the remit of the Commission."

Professor Strain added: "I would have sympathy with transparency and open meetings, but I would be totally against recording."

EFSA said examples of greater transparency included public access to documents it was working on as well as making its output, more accessible and understandable.”

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.