New EFSA chief commits to, ‘opening up its scientific processes’

“In the coming months, input from the public consultation will feed into finalisation of a new Open EFSA policy and follow-up plan.”

EFSA’s new chief Dr Bernhard Url said greater transparency at the Parma-based agency can boost trust and deliver better opinions.

“EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] is committed to opening up its scientific processes to the widest possible extent and to being more understandable to its partners, stakeholders and the public at large,” Dr Url said last week.

“I believe that not only will this make EFSA more accountable and trusted, but it can also result in more comprehensive, more understandable and better focused scientific advice for decision-makers.”

From various meetings dating back to 2013, the 14-year-old agency noted it has received more than 60 suggestions to improve transparency measures. A summary of those can be found here along with a summary of how the agency seeks to achieve greater transparency, “over the coming years.”

“EFSA wants feedback particularly on these key aspects of the paper and welcomes comments from national partners, other scientific advisory bodies, civil society organisations and other stakeholders as well as experts and practitioners in the field of open government and open science.”

“In the coming months, input from the public consultation will feed into finalisation of a new Open EFSA policy and follow-up plan.”

Transparency limits

Yet the idea of total transparency is not without its opaque edges. Some scientists working on the agency’s various panels have expressed the view that having observers in meetings, for example, would inhibit the scientific debate.  

Professor Sean Strain of Ulster University, a Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) member, told us recently that observed meetings could inhibit panelists and raised the question of observer influence.

Scientific panels must, "be blind to the needs of the industry and be blind to the needs of the consumer - this is in the remit of the Commission."

Professor Strain added: "I would have sympathy with transparency and open meetings, but I would be totally against recording."

EFSA said examples of greater transparency included public access to documents it was working on as well as making its output, more accessible and understandable.”

Related News

EFSA wants your views on its openness...

EFSA extends consultation on ‘Open EFSA’

EFSA: “While it is still possible to also send paper copies of technical dossiers to EFSA, the electronic copy is now considered as the formal submission."

EFSA takes 'e' path to cut red tape for health claims and more

"The traditional understanding that academia is necessarily and automatically 'independent' must evolve to reflect these developing deeper relationships between academia and business," says European Ombudsman

EFSA must revise its conflict of interest rules: European Ombudsman

EFSA is promising 'transparent and open communication of the processes'

EFSA’s pledge: ‘More robust, open and transparent processes’

'I would actually change EFSA's role,' says Peter Wennström, president and consultant at The HealthyMarketingTeam

Industry heavy weights weigh in on EFSA and openness

Who will be the next NDA chair?

10 new faces as EFSA names health claims panel for 2015-2018

EFSA flags up more 'interactive and responsive' feed and food risk assessment process

EFSA flags up more 'interactive and responsive' feed and food risk assessment process

The food industry has been portrayed as "the grand satan trying to poison the European community", says EFSA chair at plenary.

We can't have both open doors and open discussions, says temp EFSA chair

Dr Url: “I commit myself to working with staff, scientific experts, European institutions, member states and stakeholders to uphold EFSA’s core values and to work towards more open risk assessment and further building trust.”

EFSA confirms Bernard Url as new chief

Dr Bernhard Url: "EFSA in 2014 does not have a problem with conflict of interest, but with perceived conflicts of interest.”

New EFSA chief-designate: ‘Our first priority is to get the science right’

EFSA chiefs back independence amid transparency debate

EFSA chiefs: 'It is important EFSA understands the context of its scientific opinions'

EFSA rejects ‘secret studies’ allegations

EFSA rejects ‘secret studies’ allegations

EFSA HQ: Where nerds gather to opine

EFSA: ‘We have received comments that our opinions are written by a bunch of nerds’

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says the Ombudsman has already acknowledged ‘significant action’ taken to strengthen rules on potential conflicts of interest.

Significant action already taken to combat conflicts of interest, says EFSA

Comments (1)

Laszlo G Meszaros - 22 Jul 2014 | 09:39


Are you kidding? It would be nice though. Of course, it will never happen, as Politics and big business have nothing to do with openness.

22-Jul-2014 at 21:39 GMT

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.