On August 3, 2017 the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) Scientific Committee published two new guidance documents addressing the assessment of the biological relevance of data and the use of the weight of evidence approach in scientific assessments.
The first guidance document clarifies definitions and concepts related to biological relevance and “should be applicable to all relevant EFSA Scientific Panels and Scientific Committee.” A general frameworks is provided, considering biological relevance at three main stages in dealing with scientific evidence: 1) Developing the assessment strategy, 2) collecting and selecting data, and 3) appraising and integrating data. Further, uncertainty considerations are discussed.
The second guidance document addresses the use of both qualitative and quantitative weight of evidence approaches in scientific assessments. The weight of evidence assessment is comprised of three steps: 1) assembling evidence, 2) weighing evidence, and 3) integrating evidence. Reliability, relevance, and consistency are identified as three elementary considerations for weighing evidence. The guidance further provides a list of criteria for comparing different weight of evidence methods “to assist in evaluating the relative strengths and weaknesses.” Uncertainty and transparency considerations are also discussed.
Both guidance documents include several case studies “covering the various areas under EFSA’s remit.”
EFSA (August 3, 2017). “Transparency and data quality: New cross-cutting EFSA guidance in a nutshell.”
EFSA (August 3, 2017). “Guidance on the assessment of the biological relevance of data in scientific assessments.” EFSA Journal 15(8):4970.
EFSA (August 3, 2017). “Guidance on the use of the weight of evidence approach in scientific assessments.” EFSA Journal 15(8):4971.