EFSAs treatment of uncertainty under trial

The way uncertainty is treated in risk assessment is under scrutiny. There is a need for this since we today face more complex problems and need to take into account possible risks for which knowledge is weak.

One example is the ongoing work in the EU on how we treat uncertainty in environmental and health risk assessments.

In March 2016 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published the draft scientific Guidance document on Uncertainty in EFSA Scientific Assessment. The Guidance has been exposed to a public consultation and stakeholders provided many comments, which now have been addressed.

According to EFSA, “the Guidance is applicable to all areas of EFSA, all types of scientific assessment and all types of uncertainty affecting scientific assessment. It does not prescribe specific methods for uncertainty analysis but rather provides a harmonised and flexible framework within which different methods may be selected, according to the needs of each assessment.”

EFSA’s scientific expert panels will use the Guidance for a trial period for about two years. In 2017 the Guidance will be revised according to the problems identified. This is a great opportunity to discuss the treatment of uncertainty, not only in EFSA’s risk assessments. We wrote an oped in Sydsvenskan about this.

EFSA is the agency responsible for the risk assessments of threats posed to living organisms for the EU commission. EFSA is situated in Parma, Italy.


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