EFSA’s Scientific Committee celebrates its 50th plenary meeting

The members of EFSA’s Scientific Committee have concluded their 50th plenary session, marking an important milestone in the Committee’s history since its creation in June 2003. Over the years, the Scientific Committee has addressed many challenging areas of increasingly complex science and this meeting was no exception. New risk assessment approaches were the focus of discussion while genotoxicity testing strategies and the Authority’s draft Science Strategy 2012-2016 were also addressed.

Commenting on this occasion, Professor Vittorio Silano, Chair of EFSA’s Scientific Committee explained “It continues to be a privilege to work with the Chairs of each of EFSA’s Scientific Panels and the external experts who together form EFSA’s Scientific Committee. Our task of providing support on cross-cutting scientific issues is of fundamental importance. Importantly, since 2003, the Scientific Committee has made a significant contribution to ensuring the safety of food across the EU, thus accomplishing its main task.”

To avoid duplication of efforts taking place at Member State level, EFSA’s Scientific Committee often focuses its work on developing harmonised risk assessment methodologies in fields where EU-wide approaches are not already defined. As a result, the work of the Committee is often challenging, at the forefront of scientific thinking and sometimes controversial in nature such as its work on nanotechnology and cloning. Recognising this, the Committee engaged early on in public consultations of its work.

The Committee also plays a critical role in the provision of guidance to EFSA’s Scientific Panels on good risk assessment practices. This guidance is two-fold in nature: it addresses technical methodological issues such as the introduction of a Qualified Presumption of Safety (QPS) approach for assessment in selected microorganisms applicable to EFSA’s work; and horizontal guidance of a more generic nature such as how to address transparency and uncertainties in risk assessments.

The Scientific Committee produces scientific opinions and advice for risk managers, to provide a sound foundation for European policies and legislation and to support risk managers in taking effective and science based decisions.

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