European Commission building
12 April 2018

France welcomes the European’s Commission’s proposals on food safety

Building on lessons learned from debate on European re-examinations of glyphosate, the European Commission has just outlined the proposed reform of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). France welcomes these proposals and suggests further additions to them bearing on conflicts of interests, procedures in the event of scientific uncertainties, and cooperation with national and international agencies.
 

Stéphane Travert, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, and Brune Poirson, Secretary of State attached to the Ministre d’État, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, welcome the reform proposals announced by the European Commission in the context of revision of the crosscutting regulations underlying the principles applicable throughout the European Union (EU) with regard to food safety (“Food Law”).
 

Portrait of Minister Travert
"We are satisfied that a number of France’s requests have been taken into account in the plans to revise the European regulations. The Council of European Ministers of Agriculture will begin debating the proposals in Luxembourg next Monday, and France will make itself heard as it is essential to improve them and create all the conditions necessary to ensuring that European citizens have complete trust in the food they eat."
Stéphane Travert
Minister of Agriculture and Food



The Commission’s reform proposals take account of ideas advanced by France, both as regards transparency of data used to carry out assessment studies and measures to take in the event of disagreement on a given assessment.

The Commission proposes the following focuses for action, which should result in considerable improvement of European mechanisms for assessing chemical substances:

  • Making public all data relating to applications for authorisation of chemical substances on the European market (except confidential data connected with intellectual property)
  • Setting up a register of all studies programmed by industrial concerns applying for authorisation of their substances.
  • Carrying out complementary studies, financed by European funds rather than industrial concerns themselves, in cases where analyses carried out by EFSA or other agencies do not agree on the risks a substance poses to human health (as was the case with disagreements on whether or not glyphosate was a carcinogen).
  • Member States appointing EFSA scientific committees’ experts on criteria of competence and independence.
Portrait of Minister Loiseau
"Action at European level is the best way of ensuring that all consumers enjoy the very high levels of food safety they have a right to expect. I welcome the Commission’s proposals and we shall be working together to build on all the lessons learned from the most recent crises."
Nathalie Loiseau
Minister for European Affairs

Other prospective advances

France will nonetheless continue to promote further advances with a view to stepping up the fight against conflicts of interests on the part of assessment agencies’ experts, and improving procedures in cases of scientific uncertainty as well as cooperation with international and national agencies.
 

Portrait of Minister Poirson
"France will continue to make ambitious proposals with regard to European agencies’ transparency and independence. More than ever, we need to promote measures guaranteeing French citizens healthy food and a healthy environment."
Brune Poirson
Secretary of State attached to the Ministre d’État, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition



France considers that further measures are required to reinforce EFSA’s independence. Among other things, it proposes:

  • Setup of an Ethics Committee (composed of experts and representatives of civil society) at EFSA.
  • Harmonisation between agencies of rules governing conflicts of interest.
  • Improving coordination between agencies regarding frames of reference and criteria for acceptability, depending on the evolution of scientific knowledge and feedback from the field, with a view to minimising the possibility of delivering contradictory scientific opinions within the EU.
  • Increasing cooperation between European agencies and international assessment agencies.


 

The European Food Safety Authority
EFSA was founded by the European Union (EU). It operates independently from the European Commission, the European Parliament and EU Member States.
Legally established by the EU pursuant to general food legislation, it was set up in 2002 following a series of food crisis that arose in the late 1990s, to provide an impartial source of scientific opinion and communication on risks associated with the food supply chain.
General food law has established a European food safety system in which risk assessors’ and risk managers’ respective responsibilities are separated.
Most risk assessments carried out by EFSA are by request of the European Commission, the European Parliament or EU Member States. However, it occasionally carries out scientific work on its own initiative.