Food Law News - EU - 1997

5 November 1997: ADMINISTRATION - Commission renews Scientific Committees in the field of consumer health

Commissions Press Release (IP/97/947), 5 November 1997

Commission renews Scientific Committees in the field of consumer health

The European Commission has taken a major step in contributing to food safety and in fulfilling the engagements it took with the European Parliament following the BSE crisis. Following an open call for expressions of interest, 131 scientists have beennominated as members of the eight scientific committees. These committees advise the Commission in questions such as food safety, animal nutrition, animal health and animal welfare, veterinary public health, plants, cosmetic and other non-food consumer products, toxicity and ecotoxicity and the environment, medicinal products and medical devices. With this nomination the most important element of the reorganisation of the scientific advise system of the Commission is in place.

Following the BSE crisis, the scientific committees advising the Commission on food safety had been separated from the Commission services responsible for legislation in this area (DG III and VI). Together with the veterinary control, the scientific committees had been transferred to DG XXIV which is responsible for consumer policy and health protection. The communication on consumer health and food safety (COM (97) 183) describes the Commission´s new approach to in this field. The reorganisation of the existing scientific committees, in particular the nomination of new members and more transparency of their work, are a major part of this policy.

Up to now, six scientific committees (food, animal nutrition, pesticides, toxicity and exotoxicity, veterinary public health and cosmetology) and a multidisciplinary committee gave its scientific opinions to the Commission. They are replaced by the following eight scientific committees, set up by the Commission Decision 97/579/EC of 23 July 1997, O.J. n° L 237 of 28/8/97 and by a co-ordinating Steering Committee which was nominated by the Commission Decision of 29 July 1997 O.J. n° C 235 of 2/8/97:

The Commission has nominated yesterday all 131 members of these committees for a period of three years. They come from all 15 Member States, from Norway and Israel. They were chosen out of more than 1126 candidatures presented by biologists, doctors, veterinary doctors, toxicologists, chemists , food specialists and other scientists active in the field of consumer health in response to an open call for expressions of interest, published 1 August 1997 in the OJ.

The selection juries for each committee were composed of Commission representatives responsible for consumer health and scientific research and chaired by the members of the Scientific Steering Committee. The juries selected for each committee a list of the most suitable experts on the basis of professional experience in the field of consumer health, in risk assessment, in delivering scientific opinions at national or international level, in scientific management and attested scientific excellence. An observer from the European Parliament and an observer from the Council were invited to assist in the selection procedure.

The scientific committees have an advisory role. They are consulted whenever a legal act requires it for example in veterinary questions, public health, food safety or safety of cosmetic products. They may also be consulted on other questions relevant to consumer health and food safety. Their task includes to critically examine risk assessments made by scientists belonging to Member State organisations, to develop new risk assessment procedures, and to prepare scientific opinions and evaluate scientific principles on which Community health standards are based. On their own initiative, the members of the committees can put the attention of the Commission to potential or new risks for consumer health. Transparency, excellency and independence are guiding principles for their work.

Each scientific committee will meet regularly, in average about ten times a year. No committee has more than 19 members. The newly appointed members of the committees will meet between 10 and 21 November for the first time. The new system of scientific advice will be fully operational after 21 November. The widest possible access to the work of the scientific committees is guaranteed. Agenda, minutes and opinions of the scientific committees are systematically made available to the interested public on Internet immediately after their adoption ( Minority views will be included in opinions and minutes as appropriate. About 100 leading consumer associations receive these documents by rapid fax.

The following is an alphabetical list of the scientists appointed by the Commission as members of the Scientific Committee on Food:

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