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EFSA launches new programme in bid to improve transparency

By Laurence Gibbons , 16-Jan-2013
Last updated on 16-Jan-2013 at 13:54 GMT

The EFSA is calling for more transparency over risk assessment data
The EFSA is calling for more transparency over risk assessment data

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a new initiative, which aims to make data used in risk assessments publicly available, as part of its commitment to improve transparency.

The programme – to be developed in cooperation with the EFSA’s partners and stakeholders – will consider how best and to what extent technical data used in risk assessments can be made available to the broader scientific community and interested parties.

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, executive director of EFSA, said its launch today (January 14) will help scientists from different areas of expertise develop research that can enrich academic literature and provide valuable new perspectives that can be included in risk assessments.

“This will make the conclusions of risk assessments even stronger when ensuring public health protection and further build confidence in EFSA’s work,” she said.

Publicly available

EFSA has made all data on genetically modified (GM) maize publicly available on its website. While this data has been available on scientific request, any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to use the full data sets used in all risk assessments.

The initiative will operate alongside the current procedure for the release of information known as a public access to documents request, which has to be made in writing.

In compliance with EU legislation, EFSA processes such requests on a case-by-case basis taking into account the overriding public interest in the disclosure. EFSA said it chose to unveil the GM data given its level of public interest.

“Risk assessment is an evolving science and EFSA is always willing to review its past work should new robust science bring a new perspective to any of the Authority’s previous findings,” Geslain-Lanéelle added.

Range of measures

The transparency initiative builds on a range of measures already undertaken by EFSA to increase understanding, strengthen scrutiny and build confidence in its work. These include opening up its scientific committee and panel meetings to external observers to promote better understanding of how scientific risk assessment is carried out. It has also released previously unpublished data on aspartame during formulation of the Authority’s current draft opinion last week.

The draft opinion stated that aspartame poses “no toxicity” worries for consumers at current levels.

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