EFSA has completed a full review of all its risk assessment activities and scientific outputs related to bees and bee health. An inventory has been compiled which will now be assessed by EFSA’s scientific experts to identify areas for further cross-disciplinary collaboration as well as data and research needs inside and outside EFSA. These recommendations, which will be shared with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research & Innovation, will be published in a second report next year.
The inventory was compiled by EFSA’s task force on bees, which was set up as part of the Authority’s response to growing concerns about the worldwide decline in bee numbers. The inventory identified a total of 355 scientific outputs related to bees that have been published, or are in development, by EFSA, the majority of them related to applications for approval of regulated products (pesticides and genetically modified organisms).
The Task Force comprises staff with expertise in pesticides, animal health and welfare, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), plant health, data collection, emerging risks, and communications. Its second report will build on the review of EFSA’s activities by reviewing bee-related risk assessment activities and research carried out by national, European and international bodies such as the French food safety agency Anses, the European Commission, the European Environment Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The ultimate goal of the project is to improve EFSA’s ability to provide risk managers with comprehensive advice in the area of bee health, particularly by identifying information gaps and research needs.
With its mandate to improve EU food safety and to ensure a high level of consumer protection, EFSA has a responsibility to protect bees and the ecosystem services they provide to humans. It is timely to carry out this work in a more integrated and multidisciplinary manner, given the significant work already carried out by the Authority in the area of bee risk assessment and monitoring; the consensus reached by scientists on the multiple causes of bee colony loss; and the new body of scientific evidence showing the way different factors may interact to affect bees.
The task force’s work is in line with EFSA’s strategy for considering risk assessments in a wider, more integrated manner, and emphasising environmental aspects in risk assessment schemes.