The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation for its Draft Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes. The document provides an overview of the comprehensive measures in place at EFSA to safeguard independence and scientific integrity. All stakeholders and interested parties are invited to provide comments on the draft policy through an online public consultation running from 7 July to 16 September 2011.
Since its creation in 2002, EFSA has put in place a wide range of initiatives to uphold its core values of scientific excellence, openness, independence and transparency. The Draft Policy on Independence and Scientific Decision-Making Processes aims to integrate these initiatives into one comprehensive document, thereby strengthening the way in which the Authority assures independence and transparency in its work.
High-quality scientific outputs require transparent, open and unbiased scientific decision-making processes, all of which are critical in building further trust in EFSA’s scientific advice. The draft policy brings together the different facets of EFSA’s organisational and scientific governance structures that contribute to its effective functioning as an independent risk assessment body. These include, but are not limited to, procedures governing the processing of mandates and requests, the development of good risk assessment practices, data collection in co-operation with Member States, public consultations and collegial decision-making amongst scientific experts.
The draft policy also outlines the Authority’s approach to selecting independent scientific experts and the processes in place to guard against potential conflicts of interest, incorporating EFSA’s 2007 Policy on Declarations of Independence. This Policy makes clear the responsibilities of staff and experts to declare financial or other interests that may be prejudicial to their independence but also recognises that an interest in itself does not necessarily imply a conflict of interest.
EFSA welcomes a public debate on this issue and invites stakeholders and other interested parties to comment on the draft policy through an online public consultation that runs from 7 July to 16 September 2011. Following this, EFSA will hold a dedicated meeting with all interested parties in the autumn to explore in more detail comments made during the consultation. Feedback from the consultation and the outcomes of this event will be compiled in a report and, where appropriate, incorporated into a revised draft to be presented to the EFSA Management Board for possible adoption before end of 2011.