On October 3, 2013 the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) invited stakeholders to discuss openness and transparency of their risk assessment at the “Stakeholder conference – Transparency in Risk Assessment” in Parma, Italy. The conference was closed to the general public. Selected delegates from industry and consumer associations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic scientists and politicians were invited to contribute their needs and views. Contributions shall be included in the new information policy, which EFSA plans to finalize in 2014.
Following an introduction session, participants discussed several key aspects such as information access, stakeholder engagement and the building of a better understanding of risk assessment in three parallel break-out sessions. The main controversy arose around the open publication and public accessibility of data submitted by industry to EFSA for safety evaluations. Delegates from industry expressed fear that business sensitive data may be published and potentially used by competitors. Public interest groups, on the other hand, urged EFSA to make industry submitted data as well as all processes and results within EFSA openly accessible in order to sustain credibility of both EFSA and industry. Stakeholders concluded that irrespective of stakeholder views, EU legislation is charged with setting the legal guidelines for data handling within EFSA. EFSA will issue a report on the stakeholder conference by mid-October 2013.