ANSES: a brief outline

Created on 1 July 2010, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) is an independent scientific body which performs its risk assessment, reference and research activities in the fields of food safety and animal and plant health. Its core activity is the assessment of health risks in order to enable the public authorities to make informed decisions and in so doing to help ensure the health and safety of of the population both in its working and consumer activities

ANSES is a public authority accountable to the French Ministries of Health, Agriculture, the Environment, Labour and Consumer Affairs. ANSES is active in the fields of occupational and environmental health and safety, food safety, animal health and well-being and plant health. Concerning human health, the Agency evaluates the nutritional and functional properties of foods as well as all the risks that individuals may be exposed to in the workplace, in the environment in general and through food. The Agency provides information to the competent authorities, responds to their requests for expert assessment and provides early warning should a health crisis occur. Moreover, ANSES has authority in the veterinary drug field. It also evaluates applications for the marketing of pesticides and biocides, as well as chemicals within the framework of the European REACh regulations(1).  It is also in charge of issuing marketing authorisations for plant protection products, fertilisers and growing media, and their adjuvants.

ANSES's approach covers a wide range of expertise and handles human health in a multifaceted yet highly complementary way. Thanks to this, France possesses a unique model that is of interest to many other countries.  ANSES's core activity is the assessment of health risks in order to enable the public authorities to make informed decisions. This activity is based on the implementation of independent and pluralistic scientific expertise by expert groups made up of external scientists. This key mission is supplemented with knowledge generated by the monitoring, research and reference activities which the Agency also conducts. In exchange, risk assessment makes it possible to guide monitoring initiatives and to identify new avenues for research.

To effectively carry out these different missions, the Agency is supported by a network of 11 reference and research laboratories throughout France which have obtained international recognition in a number of fields and disciplines. It employs nearly 1350 staff and calls on approximately 800 external experts through its expert groups. ANSES also works in partnership with numerous external organisations, with whom it can enter into agreements, including health agencies, other agencies and organisations conducting complementary activities, major research institutes, public national and international laboratories, etc.  The Agency is committed to openness to civil society and also works in close collaboration with the stakeholders, who are also members of its Board of Administration. Thus, its board includes representatives of the State, various associations, professional bodies and labour unions, and elected officials. They are involved in the establishment of ANSES's work programme and can petition the Agency on subjects which they are concerned about.  On a more general level, the Agency systematically makes its work available publicly through publication on its Internet site and by organising and participating in scientific events.

1Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC.