In his overview of the Implementation of Guidelines 2000 - a high level document aimed at the way Government departments obtain and use scientific information - Professor David King said the FSA had, from its inception, 'been committed to developing and operating best practice procedures'. The FSA not only fully implements Guidelines 2000 'but in a number of areas [goes] even further', he said.
Guidelines 2000 has formed an important plank in the Modernising Government programme and the Government is committed to seeing it implemented across departments.
The principles contained in Guidelines 2000 and the need for their effective implementation 'has been recognised by all departments and many have made great strides forward since the last implementation report', Professor King said.
'To ensure that it has access to the best possible scientific advice, the FSA is carrying out a comprehensive review of its expert committees that advise it on food safety issues. A review panel that includes independent assessors and stakeholders will carry out an assessment of the ways that scientific advice is commissioned, how the committees work and how their advice is incorporated into the agency's decision-making processes.'
Recent developments in biotechnology have been particularly significant, Professor King said, and the FSA has been one of the organisations that have 'led the way in developing new and innovative approaches to opening up the scientific advisory process to public scrutiny'.
It is evident that many of these initiatives are being increasingly adopted across Government for scientific advice in other areas, he said.
Professor King added that the Guidelines are to be supplemented by a Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees, which will be more detailed and focus on advisory bodies rather than Government departments.
This will, in future, lead to the publication of a joint implementation report covering both implementation of Guidelines 2000 by departments and of the Code by their scientific advisory committees.