In an article published on October 23, 2015 in the peer-reviewed journal Science, journalist Tania Rabesandratana reports on the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) pledge to make data underlying its scientific opinions (e.g. on pesticides, food additives and food contact materials) public. EFSA announced the intention to increase data transparency at its second scientific conference held on October 14-16, 2015 at the World Expo in Milan, Italy (FPF reported). “We want to make our data as open as possible and make it reusable,” stated EFSA Executive Director Bernhard Url. EFSA will start sharing data submitted by EU Member States in 2016, Rabesandratana writes. However, it will take several more years before EFSA will share data submitted by companies as part of product risk assessments. Industry worries that data transparency could threaten trade secrets and bring forward misinterpretations leading to unwarranted concerns, Rabesandratana explains. Non-profit organizations such as Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and the Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), who have pushed EFSA for more data availability, welcome EFSA’s intentions but also worry that the pledged data access might be limited or censored. Axel Decourtye, ecotoxicologist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) points out that in addition to data sharing, it is also important that EFSA collects the right kind of data. “Transparency is all very well, but we need to make sure that the data is relevant in the first place,” Decourtye stated.
Tania Rabesandratana (October 23, 2015). “Europe’s food watchdog embraces transparency.” Science 350(6259):368.