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EFSA Board focuses on policy on transparency

The Board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) also agreed to create a new Panel to take on some of the tasks of the scientific Panel specialising in food additives and food contact materials (AFC Panel [1]) so that EFSA can achieve a greater scientific output in this area of work.

EFSA’s Executive Director, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle said in her speech to the European Parliament in February this year that openness and transparency within EFSA was of paramount importance to highlight the independence of the risk assessment process.

The policy on Declarations of Interests is aimed at reviewing the process which deals with such declarations, ensuring greater consistency throughout the organisation. It will also provide specific guidance on the details to be provided in the forms, a clearer scrutiny, and what appropriate action to take, recognising that a declared interest does not necessarily represent a conflict of interest. Taking into account further input of EFSA’s Scientific Committee, the revised document will be submitted to the members of the Board for possible adoption in coming weeks.

Professor Patrick Wall, Chair of the EFSA Management Board said: “Clarity and transparency of EFSA’s independence are essential for building consumer confidence in the Authority’s scientific opinions and for the credibility of EFSA as a world class science-based authority.”

Given the growing workload of the AFC Panel, the Board upheld EFSA’s proposal to split its current tasks between two Panels: the Panel on food additives and nutrient sources added to food which will also evaluate the safety of other deliberately added substances;and the Panel on food contact materials, enzymes, flavourings and processing aids, which also looks at the safety of substances indirectly added to food, and questions related to the safety of new processes.

The Board will immediately forward a formal request to the European Commission [2]. The new Panel could start work in 2008.

The Board elected Dr. Bart Sangster vice-chair and welcomed Dr. Milan Pogačnik as a new member of the Management Board following his appointment by the Council in June.