A Shift in the Food Landscape: Dr. Bernhard Url's Final Term at EFSA
The Culmination of a Decade-Long Leadership
As the Executive Director of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Dr. Bernhard Url has been a guiding force in shaping food safety policies across Europe. His term, which commenced in 2014, is set to conclude on 31 May 2024. Throughout his tenure, Dr. Url has emphasized the significance of addressing politically sensitive issues such as changing food habits and the cost of transition to sustainable food systems.
The Nexus of Science, Policy, and Society
Dr. Url has consistently underscored the need for dialogue on these pressing matters. He firmly believes that EFSA plays a crucial role in delivering scientific opinions on key food system debates. This belief stems from EFSA's mission to provide independent, transparent scientific advice to protect European consumers from food-related risks.
One of the most contentious issues Dr. Url has had to navigate is the assessment of glyphosate. He has stressed the importance of independent research and industry studies in the risk assessment process. Despite criticisms, he maintains that EFSA's approach is robust and scientifically sound.
Towards a Cohesive European Effort
In his final term, Dr. Url is expected to discuss EFSA's primary objectives and strategies in relation to European policy developments, such as the implementation of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy. He has called for greater alignment and collaboration between national and EU regulatory bodies to avoid duplication of work and ensure a more cohesive European effort.
A recent example of EFSA's commitment to public health is its latest scientific opinion on bisphenol A (BPA). The agency highlighted potential health risks and concluded that dietary exposure, especially through canned food products, is the main source of exposure for all age groups. EFSA found that BPA can damage the human immune system even at very low doses, in addition to other adverse effects.
The latest human biomonitoring data from the EU project HBM4EU supports EFSA's conclusion that BPA exposure poses a health concern for the European population. Levels of exceedance range from 71% to 100% in 11 EU countries.
During Dr. Url's final term, members will have the opportunity to discuss various food and feed safety topics, including animal health, additives, chemical contaminants, food packaging, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In particular, members will exchange views on topics the ENVI Committee is currently working on, covering EFSA's latest findings and risk assessments concerning new genetic techniques (NGTs), glyphosate, pesticides, and animal welfare.
As Dr. Url prepares to step down, his legacy will undoubtedly be one of scientific rigor, transparency, and a commitment to protecting public health. His leadership has navigated EFSA through complex debates, always advocating for dialogue and collaboration.
Today's date: 2024-02-13
As EFSA moves towards a future where food safety and sustainability are paramount, Dr. Url's emphasis on the intersection of science, policy, and society will continue to resonate.