Advisory Forum of the new European Food Safety Authority meets at BfR in Berlin
For its third meeting, the Advisory Forum of the new European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is the guest of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) on 3 and 4 July. The Forum, which currently has 15 members from the European Member States, supports EFSA's Executive Director, Geoffrey Podger, in his activities. Representatives of the ten future European Member States can attend the meetings as observers. Professor Andreas Hensel, President of BfR and member of the Advisory Forum, describes the meeting as an important step towards the efficient networking of national scientific institutions. Hensel comments in his welcome address, "EFSA is an important cooperation partner for the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. We seek close cooperation in order to effectively collate and exchange knowledge."
The European Food Safety Authority was established in response to the White Paper on Food Safety, published in January 2001, which identified serious capacity bottlenecks in scientific risk assessment. Like BfR, EFSA is fully independent in its risk assessment and communication. The Executive Director does not report to the European Commission but to a Management Board composed of 14 members and one representative of the European Commission. In addition to the Management Board and the Advisory Forum, the EFSA permanent staff, the Scientific Committee and eight scientific panels are the other key elements in the organisational structure. Risk management, at EU level, remains the responsibility of the European Commission. In Germany this is the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture and the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety.
EFSA's primary task is scientific risk assessment, including the identification of emerging risks. This covers almost all food safety areas from primary production through the safety of animal feed to food. The Authority will not only collect and analyse external scientific data but, unlike BfR, will also generate its own data. This will help, amongst other things, in the identification of emerging risks. EFSA advises the European Commission on scientific issues in a similar way to that in which BfR advises the Ministry of Consumer Protection. Furthermore, like BfR, it can also instigate risk assessments in its own right.
The European Food Safety Authority intends to provide prompt information on its scientific results. In this context, the Executive Director, Geoffrey Podger, gives public interest very high priority and, within certain confidentiality constraints, has indicated his support for the greatest possible degree of openness in risk communication.
Further information on the structure and tasks of the European Food Safety Authority can be found on the homepage on www.efsa.eu.int. The minutes of the Advisory Forum meetings are also published there.