EU food regulators to discuss the role of science

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European food safety European union European food safety authority

European policy makers and influencers will be examining the role of science in food policy at a round table discussion due to take place in October.

The event, which is organised by the Belgian Presidency of the European Union, will discuss how food policies are informed by science, and how policy makers react to scientific objectivity or uncertainty.

In most cases, decisions to protect consumers from the risks associated with foodstuffs are based on scientific evidence. Sometimes there is uncertainty, which leads to the precautionary principle being applied. These concepts are enshrined in the European law – Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 – and in international standards,”​ states the EU presidency in its notification of the round table.

Science for food safety

The event, due to be held on October 20 in Brussels, will bring together international experts in politics, science, economics and philosophy to debate the role of science in food safety policy.

Entitled The Role of Science in Food Policy, the meeting will be ​opened by Sabine Laruelle, the President of the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the European Union.

The European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Executive Director, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, will also address the forum on EFSA's role in providing a scientific basis for European food safety policy.

The three key topics on the agenda are:

  • The objectivity of science
  • The role of scientific experts in politics
  • The uncertainty of science, particularly with respect to the precautionary principle

The precautionary principle is the much-debated approach used to inform European food safety. It allows for the exclusion of substances if they are suspected​ of causing harm, meaning that substances must prove their safety to be approved.

Public debate

The meeting, which will take place in conjunction with EFSA’s Management Board meeting, will be open to public debate. Although it is intended primarily for those involved in food-safety policy making and regulation, the organisers also say “it should be of great interest to everyone who is concerned about the legitimacy and effectiveness of policies based on science”.

Examples of current issues facing the food sector will be used as examples throughout the discussions.

More information can be found here​.

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