EFSA: help wanted!

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Efsa, European union

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is calling for Europe and
the world's best scientists to come forward to assist it in
processing its ever-increasing workload.

EFSA has been groaning under the weight of its feed safety, nutrition, animal welfare, plant protection and health workload and has decided to boost its scientific resources. EFSA wants scientists to sign up via an online registration process that will build a database of experts it can call on to aid in its work. The Parma, Italy-based body will cover the expenses of work performed by those it employs to assist its Scientific Committee, Scientific Panels and working groups. Those drawn from the database will not however be able to join these panels, although their services will be made available to food safety agencies in the EU's 27 member states. EFSA said the process would increase transparency in its recruitment initiatives. EFSA press officer Alun Jones told NutraIngredients.com EFSA had highlighted certain areas it hoped to recruit experts in including genetically modified organisms, plant health, toxicity, chemistry and nutrition. "We don't have an ideal number in mind but we are going to be selective because we only want the best,"​ he said. "It's important we do this because we need to bolster the number of experts we can call on if and when we need them and because bringing in new blood will ensure we are up to date with the latest developments in the areas in which we operate."​ One area where EFSA's workload is about to jump significantly is health claims, which it has been tasked with scrutinising. Thousands of health claim dossiers are about to be dumped at its door by the European Commission which will require processing by January 2010, so boosting the expertise pool in areas like toxicology, chemistry, nutrition, epidemiology and medicine is seen as a vital measure. "We might add a professor to the database who has spent 20 years researching toxicology or a PhD student exploring probiotic microbiota,"​ Jones said. EFSA will organise a series of activities over the coming months to promote the engagement and participation of scientists in EFSA's growing risk assessment activities. Interested parties can apply here​.

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