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New moves to boost transparency in food safety across Europe have been agreed by the European Parliament and European Council.
Now consumers across the EU will be able to have automatic access to all studies and information that is put forward by the food and agriculture industry about the risk assessment process.
The public is also to be consulted over the content of any studies that are submitted.
However, the EU agreement does allow for confidentiality, when it is justified, and sets out the type of information that can be discussed openly and the type of information that could be considered commercially sensitive.
The proposal for a regulation on the transparency and sustainability of EU risk assessment in the food chain is part of the modernisation of the EU food safety policy.
It is hoped to make independent studies of food safety practices more independent.
The European Food Safety Authority is to be kept informed about all commissioned studies to guarantee that companies applying for authorisations submit all relevant information and do not hold back unfavourable studies.
EFSA will also give general advice to applicants, in particular small and medium sized companies.
The European Commission said that EU countries, civil society and the European Parliament will all be involved on the EFSA Management Board countries will be able to use the authority’s scientific capacity and engage the best independent experts into its work.
A general plan for risk communication will be adopted and will ensure a coherent risk communication strategy throughout the risk analysis process, combined with open dialogue amongst all interested parties.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, in charge of Health and Food Safety, welcomed the agreement.
“The provisional agreement reached by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission, after the positive conclusion of a third trilogue, is a resounding response to the citizens’ concerns over transparency of scientific studies in the area of food,” they said.
“This has been achieved in less than a year, thanks to committed work and involvement of all institutions.
“We have heard the call, notably expressed via a European Citizens Initiative on pesticides, for greater transparency, at an early stage of the risk assessment process, on studies submitted as part of an application for an authorisation. The EU’s scientific risk assessment body – the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) – will also be strengthened, with a greater involvement of Member States in its Management Board.
“This shows that European Citizens’ Initiatives supported by over 1 million European citizens can have real impact on EU policy and legislation. We now call on the European Parliament and the Council to finalise the adoption of the new rules, so they can be in place as soon as possible.”