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Horizon scanning exercise on preparedness for future risk assessment requirements and possible challenges in regulatory science

on the Wiley Online Library

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Disclaimer: The present document has been produced and adopted by the bodies identified above as author(s). This task has been carried out exclusively by the author(s) in the context of a contract between the European Food Safety Authority and the author(s) awarded following a tender procedure. The present document is published complying with the transparency principle to which the Authority is subject. It may not be considered as an output adopted by the Authority. The European Food Safety Authority reserves its rights view and position as regards the issues addressed and the conclusions reached in the present document without prejudice to the rights of the authors.

Abstract

The horizon scanning exercise aimed to support EFSA’s preparedness for future risk assessment requirements and challenges in regulatory science and communication in scientific thematic areas for which knowledge gaps might exist. Six areas of common interest (i.e. thematic areas) were explored through the horizon scan: (i) animal welfare and safety of the food chain, (ii) exposure science in risk assessment, (iii) nutrition and healthy diets from sustainable food systems, (iv) safety assessment of innovative products, (v) sustainable food systems and food safety, and (vi) evidence‐based risk communication in the EU Food Safety System. By applying a horizon scanning methodology and a comprehensive mapping exercise, this project delivered an overview of emerging and upcoming (scientific) developments in these six thematic areas, to enable the anticipation of future work and expertise requirements. A modified Delphi method was used to collect the necessary information from (regulatory) scientists and other EU and international stakeholders. Moreover, the mapping exercise provided an understanding of ongoing and planned research activities being undertaken by relevant scientific actors, thus identifying potential opportunities for cooperation. The horizon scan resulted in a set of recommended actions for the six thematic areas that could contribute in EFSA’s preparedness and in preventing challenges and potential divergences from materialising. With all necessary prudence, the report can conclude that while significant research is undertaken, the connection to EFSA’s strategy is not yet fully clear to all relevant stakeholders, emphasising the need for cooperation between EFSA and its stakeholders. The findings of this horizon scanning exercise should not be considered as an indication of the direction that ongoing EU policy initiatives in the food system may take. In order to address future regulatory science and policy needs, EFSA should work jointly with other EU agencies and policy makers towards identifying solutions.

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