More than 600 food safety experts from 70 countries gathered in Milan today for the opening of EFSA’s scientific conference, “Shaping the future of food safety, together”.
The delegates were welcomed by EFSA’s Executive Director, Bernhard Url, who said: “We may come from different countries and different continents, but we are united by the common concern of food safety. And we are meeting in the home of the World EXPO, whose theme of ‘Feeding the planet’ reminds us that food safety and food security are inextricably linked.
“The sheer innovation and diversity of exhibitions at EXPO bring home to us the complexity of the modern food chain and the need for ever closer international cooperation. So we are very pleased that we have been able to bring together some of the finest scientific minds from across the globe for this important conference.”
Dr Url emphasised that many of the issues to be debated over the next three days – finding and training the next generation of assessment experts, gathering and sharing data, and the consequences of globalisation – are not unique to EFSA, but have a global resonance.
He added that engagement with society would be a running theme of the conference. “Science gains its robustness from being embedded in society, which we aim to achieve at EFSA through our openness and transparency approach. We have to move from truth to trust.”
Following Dr Url’s introduction, Prof Sheila Jasanoff from Harvard University kicked off the first session, entitled “What does the future hold for assessment science”. The topic will be explored further on Thursday with breakout meetings on open data, weighing evidence, expertise for the future, and challenges in nutrition.
The second session, which begins on Thursday afternoon, takes as its theme “Science, innovation and society”, with breakout meetings looking at sub-topics such as novel approaches to chemical hazard characterisation, microbiological risk assessment, and methods for enabling “open” risk assessment.