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EFSA launches innovative Network for the Harmonisation of Risk assessment Methodologies

1st meeting of the EFSA Scientific Network on Harmonisation of Risk Assessment methodologies

EFSA is uniquely positioned to promote harmonised methodologies given its role as a hub for risk assessment expertise in Europe. The collective decisions of the Authority’s Scientific Committee, Panels and working groups rely on the expertise of scientists as well as on data received from Member States, research organisations and universities. Their participation in EFSA’s work and the feedback channelled through EFSA’s scientific networks support the accumulation and transfer of knowledge and best practices back to the scientific community. This creates more understanding of the need for common approaches and a greater commitment to meet this challenge.

To assist in building greater understanding of risk assessment principles and methodologies with particular emphasis on general risk assessment methodologies of crosscutting nature, EFSA’s Scientific Committee has initiated a dedicated network on the harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies with the aim to:

  • Facilitate harmonisation of risk assessment practices and methodologies
  • Enhance exchange of information and data between EFSA and Member States
  • Achieve synergies in risk assessment methodology

On 7-8 June 2012, this network had its first meeting in Parma, Italy, attended by 24 Member States and representatives from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre as well as DG Research and Innovation.

On the first day, participants debated current knowledge and practices before moving to new risk assessment methodologies and tools. The second day naturally evolved the discussion, looking at risk assessment needs and priorities. The participants highlighted the importance for the network to address not only risk assessment methodologies for chemical substances but also to include other areas falling under EFSA's remit such as microbiology, plant and animal health.

As a first task, members have committed to examine the extent to which EFSA’s methodological guidance documents are being implemented by the relevant national competent authorities. The results of this analysis will assist EFSA in understanding the reasons behind any divergences and form the basis for further harmonisation in Europe.