The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a Science Strategy 2012-2016 outlining the agency’s plans to protect the food supply chain “in the coming years through up-to-date, science-based risk assessments.” Intended to complement EFSA’s corporate Strategic Plan 2009-2013, the new strategy reflects internal deliberations among its Scientific Committee, Advisory Forum, Management Board and staff, and various stakeholders. The document focuses on four objectives designed to (i) “further develop [the] excellence of EFSA’s scientific advice”; (ii) “optimize the use of risk assessment capacity in the EU”; (iii) “develop and harmonize methodologies and approaches to assess risks associated with the food chain”; and (iv) “strengthen the scientific basis for risk assessment and risk monitoring.”
To achieve these goals, the strategy proposes several key initiatives, including a bid to “enhance the contribution of EFSA staff to support the scientific work of the EFSA Scientific Committee and Scientific Panels.” EFSA has also recommended making the scientific consensus process more transparent as well as revamping its communications with consumers and other parties “in order to understand and address their risk perceptions and information needs and preferences, particularly related to new or complex scientific issues.” In addition, the agency has proposed streamlining regulatory submissions and reviews by facilitating electronic submissions and other IT-supported initiatives.
“As these activities are in large part related to regulatory review and postauthorization monitoring of regulated products, the level and origin of resources to fund these activities may impact the feasibility of these projects,” concludes the strategy, which will remain an open document subject to further amendment. “Progress in implementing the strategy will be assessed annually against EFSA’s corporate key performance indicators and any remedial actions will be included in the multi-annual work program and annual management plans of the Authority. The strategy itself will also be reviewed at regular intervals to adjust the strategic direction in line with changes in the operating environment.”