More appointments at EFSA as plant health gets panel

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European parliament European union Treaty of lisbon Efsa

Europe's food safety authority has announced the appointment of
almost 200 scientists to its scientific committee and panels, yet
more new appointments at EFSA following the announcement that a new
chief executive, Catherine Geslain-Laneelle, will be starting next

The organisation has had to deal with a move to Parma, Italy, and has faced ongoing criticism that it cannot achieve true independence, but the independence and impartiality of the new experts is ensured thanks to a rigorous selection process.

"Independence and impartiality are the cornerstone of EFSAs work and both are critical to building and maintaining public confidence in European risk assessment,"​ said the agency in a statement.

Stuart Slorach, chairman of the board, expressed his satisfaction with the high level of scrutiny with which the experts were selected and the resulting list of designated scientists: "I am very pleased that EFSA has been able to attract such highly qualified scientific experts for its Scientific Committee and Panels, which form the backbone of its work in providing scientific opinions and advice on matters related to food and feed safety."

Almost 50 per cent of the 191 scientists are new, while the remainders have merely had their three-year term renewed with the agency.

And the new appointments coincide with the launch of a new plant health panel, which has the brief to assess the risks presented to plant health in order to secure the safety of the food chain.

Essentially, EFSA rests on four pillars: the management board, the executive director, an advisory forum composed of member states, and the scientific committee and eight panels. The job of the experts, selected from around the globe, is to carry out an extensive risk assessment, from which to formulate a scientific opinion.

Once created, the opinion returns back to the risk managers, such as the European Commission or European Parliament. While the majority of questions have so far emanated from the Commission, Parliament and member states have started to approach EFSA.

The authority has already provided evidence on a range of issues such as sodium intake, the safety of aspartame, farmed fish and various food additives.

The European Commission, the European Parliament and Member States rely on EFSA as an independent and transparent risk assessment process as a basis for taking informed risk management decisions.

Geslain-Laneelle will start her new role as chief executive on the first of July, saying that streamlining the agency's work will be a main priority.

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