Bartsch D.,BVL Bundesamt fur Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit
Journal fur Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit | Year: 2014
This contribution considers the interaction between scientific knowledge, risk assessment, risk management, policy making and public perception. In the European Union (EU), genetically modified organism(s) (GMO) are regulated based on the process of production, not on the phenotype. The regulatory system is science-based and concentrates on the assessment of risks rather than benefits. Risk assessment for placing on the EU market is actually completed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in cooperation with competent authorities from 28 Member States. Research scientists involved need to know the limits and benefits of dealing with restricted data in the risk assessment process. Risk assessors should envisage the consequence of their outcome on risk management in the regulatory process. Conversely, risk managers need to understand the principles and limitations of risk assessment, and communicate clear and measurable protection goals that need to be considered by risk assessors. Policy making impacts in many ways on risk management processes in the EU. Decision making should take into account the best scientific knowledge and acknowledge the transparency for actions that is required by political stakeholders. Communication is important to address all concerns expressed by the public. It is recognised that scientific results cannot always be converted into simple guidelines or advice that non-scientists can easily understand or follow. However, there is no alternative to permanent pro-active and transparent risk communication. Public perception is often at odds with the scientific facts considered by professional risk assessment bodies like EFSA. It is thus a constant challenge to educate the public about scientific advancements and debunk myths spread by interest groups. © 2014 Bundesamt für Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (BVL).