Food Safety Magazine

News | March 5, 2013

EFSA Promotes Public Access to Data in Transparency Initiative

By Staff

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced the launch of a major initiative designed to facilitate access to data, enhancing transparency in risk assessment. The program, to be developed in cooperation with 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.

The project is part of EFSA’s continuing commitment to openness and addresses recommendations made by an independent evaluation report of EFSA’s performance to further enhance transparency in its decision-making processes. EFSA’s Science Strategy also highlights the importance of EFSA playing a leading role in making relevant scientific data more accessible to all interested parties.

EFSA Executive Director Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle said, “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. With the launch of [the] initiative that aims to make data used in risk assessment publicly available, EFSA will help scientists from different areas of expertise develop research that can ultimately 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.”

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 a landmark opinion by its Scientific Committee on transparency in risk assessment and subsequent initiatives such as publishing the full list of scientific studies and previously unpublished data on aspartame during formulation of the Authority’s current draft opinion. EFSA has also opened up its Scientific Committee and Panel meetings to external observers to promote better understanding of how scientific risk assessment is performed.

Given the level of public interest, EFSA has made all data on genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 publicly available on its website). While EFSA has already made available these data upon specific request on several occasions, any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to examine and utilize the full data sets used in this risk assessment.