The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is holding a conference on Transparency in Risk Assessment on 3 October 2013 in Parma, Italy, from 09:00 to 16:15.
The conference is part of an initiative EFSA launched in January 2013, designed to facilitate public access to data used by the Authority in risk assessments and to enhance transparency in its scientific decision-making processes.
The conference offers EFSA’s civil society stakeholders the opportunity to express their views and suggestions on how to further ensure transparency in the scientific decision-making process, including:
- how best and to what extent technical data and information used in risk assessments can be made available to the broader scientific community and interested parties, as well as when and how this could be done,
- how to further enhance the transparency of the overall risk assessment process during the risk assessment phases - consisting of initiation, assessment and publication of the opinion.
Proposals put forward at the conference will be considered when revising the Authority’s policy on openness and transparency in 2014.
To ensure a wide spectrum of views is heard, the one-day event foresees an active role for stakeholders. In the morning session, stakeholder organisations active in the main areas of interest of the food and feed chain (consumers, non-governmental organisations and industry), will have the opportunity to share their views in the area of transparency with participants.
The second part of the conference foresees break-out sessions to hear views and suggestions on specific aspects of the process such as:
- Possible further initiatives to increase transparency
- Where is the right balance? Cost versus benefits of possible initiatives
- The role of stakeholders in this process
- Other topics to be extracted from the morning’s discussion
Registrations to this event are closed.
EFSA and transparency: setting the scene
Openness and transparency are core values of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). Since it was set up in 2003 EFSA has implemented a number of measures aimed at ensuring that the voices of its non-institutional stakeholders ¬– industry associations, consumer organisations and NGOs – are heard and their views considered when it carries out its risk assessment work. The Authority is currently developing a new policy on transparency – to be finalised in 2014 – that will help to increase understanding of, and further build trust in, its scientific work. This conference is an important opportunity for you to tell us how we can further improve this fundamental aspect of our work.
EFSA is particularly keen to hear your views on three broad themes:
- Access to information. EFSA already makes a great deal of data and information available to stakeholders and the general public. But could it release more? Would stakeholders like to see more data made available? Increased transparency carries a cost in terms of time and resources for organisations and their stakeholders – what is the right balance between the costs and benefits?
- Engagement of stakeholders in the scientific decision-making process. EFSA is in constant dialogue with its partners and stakeholders. For example, its Stakeholder Consultative Platform, which meets three times a year, provides a forum for discussion and exchange of information; the Authority regularly holds public consultations and technical meetings on scientific outputs prior to their adoption and publication; and EFSA has opened up some of the meetings of its Scientific Panels to observers. How could EFSA engage stakeholders more closely in the risk assessment process whilst ensuring efficiency?
- Communicating simply and clearly. Risk communication is risk assessment’s twin sibling at EFSA. We are required not just to identify risks in the food chain but to tell the outside world about them. All of EFSA’s scientific outputs are published online and the Authority uses a range of online and offline tools to better explain the risk assessment process and its work. Does EFSA need to better explain its scientific outputs and how it carries out its work? What else could we do to improve the quality of our conversation with stakeholders?
EFSA’s transparency initiative is in line with its Science Strategy for 2012-2016, which highlights the importance of making data more accessible to all interested parties. The initiative also addresses the recommendation made by the EFSA Management Board, following the Authority’s external evaluation, that EFSA should further increase transparency in its decision-making processes. EFSA’s core priority remains the fulfilment of its public health mandate, and this essential task will always have first call on the Authority’s resources, but reinforcing transparency is also of high importance.
The new policy will represent a significant milestone for the Authority and influence the way we work for years to come. It is important that we get it right. The outcomes of today’s conference – together with the views expressed by the Stakeholder Consultative Platform Discussion Group on Process Transparency and Information Access – will help to shape the EFSA of the future.