Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, M.S.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Time: Time: 4:00 - 4:45 p.m.
Location: Room N426 of McCormick Place
Presentation: Can Science Do More to Support Food Policy? The European Union Experience
Europe faced a series of food safety crises around the turn of this century related to, among other things, BSE, Salmonella, dioxin contamination, and the use of chemicals in the food chain. Faced with public disquiet over the safety of the food on citizens’ plates, the near collapse of the European beef trade, and a deteriorating political milieu, legislators took the momentous decision to separate science from politics and to elevate the role of science in the policymaking process. The enactment of the General Food Law in 2002 marked a watershed moment in the history of European food safety and gave birth to the European Food Safety Authority, the European Union’s independent risk assessment body.
A decade later, Europe can reflect on the relative merits and demerits of this food safety governance model, which has aroused global interest and been emulated elsewhere. Many factors have changed in EFSA’s operating environment during that decade, not the least of which is the economic crisis, which threatens the livelihoods of many and forces regulatory authorities worldwide to reconsider their return on investment for citizens. Ironically, while the need for evidence-based policy is gaining widespread acceptance, public trust in the scientific process and in scientists themselves is coming under increasing pressure. In parallel, there is a growing demand for greater social involvement in the democratic process and civil society groups have emerged as significant players in food policy decisions. Meanwhile, science advances relentlessly and complex food technologies are emerging with the potential to revolutionize our food production processes, aided by the easier transfer of technology from academia to industry.
Against this backdrop, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle draws on her experience as Executive Director of EFSA since 2006, as a risk manager in the European Commission and in France, and as Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on General Principles to chart European progress in establishing evidence-based food policy, and to identify the key future challenges facing the risk assessment community.