EFSA Press Release, 8 November 2004
The European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) Advisory Forum launched today its first public event to encourage dialogue and debate on future perspectives in European risk assessment regarding food and feed safety. Over 350 participants have gathered in Berlin to hear expert views and participate in discussions on European co-operation in risk assessment, at a premiere event hosted by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR).
In an opening speech, Prof Andreas Hensel, President of the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung (BfR) welcomed participants and outlined the importance of such a gathering of experts to further advance the science of risk assessment.
Geoffrey Podger, EFSA's Executive Director and Chair of EFSA's Advisory Forum, emphasised the need for close collaboration between EFSA and national food safety authorities in Member States in order to fully protect consumer interests. Food scares know no political boundaries, stated Geoffrey Podger, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure the highest level of scientific advice. The ambition of the Advisory Forum is indeed to establish a successful European partnership in risk assessment and risk communications. I am delighted that this event will provide a platform for presenting the work of the Advisory Forum since its establishment in March 2003 and discussing future developments.
Science is at the heart of EFSA's Advisory Forum discussions, explained Dr. Herman Koëter Deputy Executive Director and Director of Science, EFSA. At this conference, experts will exchange views regarding progress in risk assessment methodologies and approaches. Establishing strong European expert networks is critical in order to more effectively address the challenges of today, enhance our ability to identify new emerging risks and prepare ourselves collectively for the unexpected.
How can we weigh risks and benefits? On the second day of the Advisory Forum event, Dr Ada Knaap, Vice-Chair, EFSA Scientific Committee, will lead a round table discussion on how to best integrate the evaluation of benefits in risk assessment, as well as implications arising both for scientists and communications to the public. Topical subjects to be addressed include: risk perception and implications of risk-benefit assessments for risk analysis (Professor Ortwin Renn, University of Stuttgart); GMOs and food (Professor Maxime Schwartz, AFSSA); risks and benefits of fish consumption (Dr. Diane Bedford, UK FSA); and fortification of foods with folic acid (Professor Albert Flynn, Chair EFSA Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies).
Through ongoing collaboration and organisation of public events such as these, EFSA and its Advisory Forum aim to reinforce existing links between national food safety authorities and more generally, facilitate the exchange of information on risk assessment issues. A major purpose of the Advisory Forum event is to prepare for the 2005 review of EFSA which will look at internal efficiencies as well as the Authority's broader mission and role, and whether any adjustments to these need to be made.