Climate change constitutes a relevant driver of emerging risks. While a broad range of forward‐looking studies and reports examine the impact of climate change on food security, future challenges for food and feed safety, plant and animal health and nutritional quality are usually not investigated in depth.
The CLimate change and Emerging risks for Food SAfety (CLEFSA) project has explored the possibility of: (a) using the specific driver, climate change, for long‐term anticipation of multiple emerging risks, using scenarios of climate change; (b) using crowdsourcing and text mining to collect a broad range of signals from a variety of information sources; (c) using a knowledge network of experts from international organisations; (d) designing a Multi‐Criteria Decision Analysis tool for characterising signals through a participatory process, in which expert knowledge is used to identify relevant issues from the vast and often incomplete information; (e) developing methodologies and indicators for the analysis of the information available, addressing uncertainty.
Climate change and its implications for food safety demand complex scientific study, given the number and diversity of hazards to be considered, the large uncertainties involved and the interconnections between the different areas. The effects of climate change are characterised by a multidisciplinary nature (human–plant–animal health and environmental sciences) and go beyond the recognition of specific emerging risks. CLEFSA has identified numerous issues that are driven by climate change and that may affect food safety in Europe. Climate change has the potential of causing, enhancing or modifying the occurrence and intensity of some food‐borne diseases and the establishment of invasive alien species harmful to plant and animal health. It has an impact on the occurrence, intensity and toxicity of blooms of potentially toxic marine and freshwater algae and bacteria, on the dominance and persistence of various parasites, fungi, viruses, vectors and invasive species, harmful to plant and animal health. Climate change is likely to drive the (re)emergence of new hazards, increase the exposure or the susceptibility to known hazards and change the levels of micronutrients and macronutrients in food and feed items. By the very nature of the challenge, this list is inevitably incomplete, and undoubtedly unanticipated surprises await us in the future.