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European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is a European agency funded by the European Union that operates independently of the European legislative and executive institutions (Commission, Council, Parliament) and EU Member States.
It was set up in 2002 following a series of food crises in the late 1990s to be a source of scientific advice and communication on risks associated with the food chain. The agency was legally established by the EU under the General Food Law - Regulation 178/2002. The General Food Law created a European food safety system in which responsibility for risk assessment (science) and for risk management (policy) are kept separate. EFSA is responsible for the former area, and also has a duty to communicate its scientific findings to the public.
EFSA aims to provide high-quality scientific advice to form the basis for European policies and legislation based on the expertise of its network of scientists and staff and the quality of its science-based information and methodologies, which are grounded in internationally recognised standards.
EFSA produces scientific opinions and advice on: Food and feed safety, Nutrition, Animal health and welfare, Plant protection, and Plant health. Moreover, EFSA considers, through environmental risk assessments, the possible impact of the food chain on the biodiversity of plant and animal habitats.
Since it was set up, EFSA has delivered scientific advice on a wide range of issues such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Salmonella, food additives such as aspartame, allergenic food ingredients, genetically modified organisms, pesticides, and animal health issues such as avian influenza.
ESFA collects and analyses data to ensure that European risk assessment is supported by the most comprehensive scientific information available. It does this in cooperation with EU Member States.

Key activities within climate change and health

Climate change constitutes a relevant driver of emerging risks for future food safety. In June 2020, EFSA published the results of the CLEFSA Project (Climate change as a driver of emerging risks for food and feed safety, plant, animal health and nutritional quality) .The project has explored the possibility of (a) using scenarios of climate change for the long-term anticipation of multiple emerging risks; (b) using horizon scanning and crowdsourcing to collect a broad range of signals from a variety of information sources; (c) using a knowledge network of experts from international organisations in the European Union and the United Nations; (d) designing a Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) tool for characterising signals through a participatory process, in which expert knowledge is used to identify relevant issues from vast and often incomplete information; and (e) developing methodologies and indicators for the analysis and visualisation of the information collected during the characterisation and for addressing uncertainty in a data-poor environment.

An interdisciplinary CLEFSA network has been created, constituted by experts from European and international organisations (EEA, OIE, ECDC, JRC, FAO, WHO, WMO, UNEP, CNR, UNESCO-IOC – SCOR GlobalHAB programme), academic institutions ( University California Los Angeles, Florence University), lead authors of the IPCC Assessment Report and coordinators of large EU projects involved with climate change (EuroCigua). A survey has been launched to collect a broad range of issues potentially affected by climate change, including weak signals, in all EFSA’s areas. More than 600 experts responded, reporting over 240 issues. The issues identified in the survey have been complemented by literature search, using online searching tools developed by other EU institutions, the EFSA Emerging Risks Networks (Emerging Risks Exchange Network – EREN and the Stakeholders Discussion group) and information stemming from EFSA’s activity related to the subject.

The CLEFSA project has characterised and statistically analysed over 100 emerging issues for food and feed safety, plant and animal health and nutritional quality. The analysis indicates that climate change may increase severity, duration and/or frequency of the potential effects of the hazard considered in the identified issue. However, it indicates a more pronounced effect on the likelihood of emergence.

Reference information


Published in Climate-ADAPT Dec 16 2020   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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