EFSA has statutory obligations to identify emerging risks. In 2012-2013, an approach for emerging risk identification was piloted and follow-up activities on the issues identified were carried out. The engagement with Member States and civil society Stakeholders was extended to international partners. To further engage the Panels, the Scientific Committee’s Standing Working Group on Emerging Risks was established. Overall, 45 issues were evaluated. Issues prioritised for further investigation include the first European-wide survey on energy drinks consumption, an inventory of EFSA activities on bees, a study on omics technologies, and a report on the international frameworks for human risk assessment of chemical mixtures. Ongoing activities include further projects on chemical mixtures and bee health, human biomonitoring for risk assessment, non-monotonic-dose-response effects of chemical substances, and cyanobacteria toxins in food. After a few years of activity, the approach has now shown its potential to anticipate some issues that may give rise to emerging risks. Issues previously identified have recently been addressed by the Scientific Committees of the European Commission or by EFSA. These include three questions of the European Commission to EFSA (caffeine intake, lumpy skin disease, pollen importation as a source of plant health risks), one from a Member State (micro-plastic particles in marine animals), and one to the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (synthetic biology). Activities on emerging risks allowed EFSA to provide relevant contributions to Horizon 2020. Overall, our experience confirms that emerging risk identification requires a high level of expertise and knowledge networks for sharing information. Effective networking is essential for exchanging methods, data and evaluations. Next steps include the completion of the expert consultations on emerging biological hazards, the continuation of the engagement with Member States and Stakeholders, the appraisal of the approach, and the completion of the ongoing activities on the issues identified.
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications:
16 avril 2014
14 avril 2014