Opening Remarks by Commissioner Stella Kyriakides at the EFSA ONE “Health, Environment and Society” Conference

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Bernhard, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

We’ve come together today to explore how we can help make food and feed safety more sustainable; how we can carry our future goals forward; and how, through initiatives like the European Green Deal, we can deliver a collective response that protects our health, our planet and our society.

These are all important issues for our time. I therefore thank the European Food Safety Authority – EFSA – for making them the focus for the next four days, and for giving me the honour of opening the conference today.

Let me also thank EFSA’s sister agencies – the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Environment Agency and the European Medicines Agency, together with the Commission’s Joint Research Centre – for co-organising today’s event. It shows we must consider One-Health in all aspects of our work, including science.

The COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have highlighted how we need a robust and resilient food system supplying sufficient, affordable food at all times.

It has also brought home to us how our health, ecosystems, supply chains, consumption patterns and planetary boundaries are all interlinked. The increasing recurrence of droughts, floods, forest fires and new pests are a constant reminder that our food system is under threat and must become more sustainable and resilient.

Food safety and trust in the EU food safety system underpin more sustainable food systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We’ve also come together to celebrate a significant milestone: the 20 year anniversary of the General Food Law Regulation and the creation of EFSA.

The Regulation’s impact cannot be understated. Its common definitions, aims and general principles have re-defined and shaped EU food law and policy. Chief among them is the risk analysis principle, under which food law must be science-based.

EFSA has cemented this science-based approach to policy-making. Its scientific excellence has served to give EU measures a solid scientific basis. It has maintained confidence in the EU food supply. It has raised EU food safety and standards. And it has definitely helped raise international standards in the process.

EFSA has also boosted both cooperation with national and international scientific bodies and information exchange with Member States and the Commission. The result has been mutual understanding of food-related risks, minimal risk of duplication and fewer scientific divergences with other risk assessment bodies.

Thanks to EFSA and the General Food Law, the European Union can pride itself on having one of the most robust and efficient food safety systems in the world.

Our citizens have rightly called for continued improvements in how we assess risk.

We have listened to the European Citizens’ Initiative and responded with our new Transparency Regulation, designed to increase trust in science and EU policy-making.

But the transformative journey is not over yet.

We also face a new challenge: restoring our planet’s fragile health.

We must do much more to keep ourselves and the planet healthier.

Our citizens understand this. That’s why the Conference on the Future of Europe saw them express their concerns on climate change and the environment and demand a more resilient, healthier and environmentally friendly approach to food systems.

We are listening. The European Union is working on precisely that, with the European Green Deal, the Farm to Fork Strategy and the proposed legislative framework for sustainable food systems.

Our effort to become truly sustainable requires a paradigm shift and urgent action from all sectors and actors.

We must continue to rely on the best available and fit-for-purpose scientific advice on food safety and beyond, addressing the broader and complex challenges that our society and planet face. In this way, we can strengthen the European food system’s stronger foundations and global leading role. We can deliver robust and successful policies for health, environment and society, and at the same time stimulate economic growth.

Friends,

I’m very pleased that we are pursuing this exciting journey together. I’m sure that the fruitful outcomes of the next four days will make our future path even clearer.

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