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Conference and World Food Day 2017

Food safety and environmental risk assessment – way forward?

Danica Grahek Ogden, PhD
Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM), Oslo, Norway

Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) was established in 2004 to perform risk assessments for Norwegian Food Safety Authority in the same fields as EFSA. To make sure the assessments are independent no one can instruct the Committee on scientific matters and to ensure it works on relevant topics, VKM can self-task risk assessments.

The remitt of VKM is now extended to include the requests from Norwegian Environment Agency on risk assessments of alien species, microbiological products and CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) for a two-year trial period.

VKM started with the food safety assessment, but how we produce the food and what we eat impacts the environment. And how we treat the environment impacts how we can produce food. How we do both impacts on our health. Seeing those interconnections through joint food and environment risk assessment makes sense.

To start, the VKMs work was divided between different panels reflecting EFSA. Many of the panels have already had environmental issues as a part of their tasks which allowed us to utilise overlap with the assessments Environment Agency needed. By collecting the scientific assessments in VKM, both risk managers will receive scientific, interdisciplinary and comprehensive assessments of high academic quality from an independent scientific committee with experts from central academic communities across Norway.

That makes it possible to develop risk management that takes into consideration several issues and manages them all saving the effort and resources.