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French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

ANSES presents its work programme for 2011

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News of 10/02/2011

10 February 2011

ANSES’s work programme for 2011 demonstrates its determination to address the scientific challenges raised by long-term, low-dose exposure to innumerable and varied sources of danger. It is fully in line with the Agency’s multidisciplinary and integrated approach, which allows it to take into account, for its risk assessment work, all the potential hazards to which people are exposed, whether as workers, consumers or in their everyday lives.
In its presentation, ANSES highlights several new initiatives that contribute to the added value expected of the new Agency.

1. In the field of phytosanitary products, the Agency will be setting up a study to assess the real impact of exposure to pesticides on agricultural workers, using all the data available in the most recent scientific literature, regulatory assessments of products and substances, and data collected by the various vigilance schemes. The study will be able to exploit the skills of both the teams responsible for assessing products before they are authorised for marketing and which have now been brought together in a single Agency and the pesticide residue observatory.
This initiative will lead to an expert group being set up in the course of 2011 to study the subject, following an open call for candidates, with the aim of producing initial results by the end of 2012.

2. Concerning endocrine disruptors, i.e. chemical substances capable of affecting the endocrine system at very low doses, the Agency has announced a study on those sectors that use the main chemical products known to be potential endocrine disruptors, with a view to estimating human exposure both in the working environment and via food and the general environment.
This study, which will last several years, will have at least two milestones in 2011, first next March (particularly concerning bisphenol A) and again at the end of the year. It will include international cooperation (particularly with our German and North-American counterparts), with a view to developing new assessment methodologies for risks recognised at an international level.

3. Concerning food, before the summer of 2011 ANSES will publish the results of a study on the exposure of consumers to contaminants found in foods in the form of residues. This study, known as EAT (for Etude de l’Alimentation Totale), covering more than 250 foods and 20,000 different marketed products that have been screened for approximately 300 potential contaminants, will enable an assessment of consumer exposure, to identify the principal changes over time from the latest available studies and to compare the results with prescribed regulatory limits.
In parallel with this study, research has been undertaken on the effects on health of exposure to combinations of pesticide residues and the initial results are expected in 2012.

4. Working at the interface between animal and human health, in 2011 ANSES will start assessing the risk of the emergence of antimicrobial resistance due to the use of antibiotics for veterinary purposes, for prophylactic, metaphylactic and therapeutic purposes for livestock, and their preventive and therapeutic use for pets.
This assessment is being done within the framework of the recently-formed national veterinary commission for the rational use of antibiotics, to whom the Agency will be reporting the results of its study.

5. To address the issue of the potentially harmful effects of radiofrequencies, ANSES has carried out several appraisals. Following on from this, in 2011 the Agency will set up a permanent expert group on “Radiofrequencies & health” whose mission will be to monitor in real time the latest scientific developments in this field.
Following the incorporation by ANSES of the Fondation Santé et Radiofréquences (Health and Radiofrequencies Foundation) (1), a research programme entitled “Health and Radiofrequencies” will be set up with its own Scientific Board, in parallel with the environmental and occupational health programme, and an annual call for research projects will be launched. ANSES will also create an outreach commission, to act as a forum for all stakeholders concerned by this issue and ensure that the Agency is aware of the public’s concerns regarding research, expertise and information on radiofrequencies and health.

In line with its principles of reaching out to all stakeholders, ANSES held a series of consultations on various themes in October 2010, to discuss the directions that its work programme should take concerning each of its spheres of competence: occupational health, environmental health, food safety and animal health and welfare.

Lastly, ANSES has adopted a deontological code and a set of fundamental principles for collective expert appraisal, which can be consulted on its website. To reinforce vigilance and ensure that these rules are strictly upheld, ANSES is setting up a Commission for Ethical Standards and the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest. This commission was created by the Board of Administrators on 8 February 2011 and will be operational by the end of April at the latest. All of ANSES’s governing bodies will thus be operational, giving it a solid basis with which to guarantee the values of scientific rigour, independence, transparency and dialogue with stakeholders, for the protection of civil society.

(1) The Fondation Santé et Radiofréquences was created in 2005 at the suggestion of OPECTS (Office parlementaire pour l’expertise des choix technologiques et scientifiques – Parliamentary Commission for expertise on technological and scientific choice). Its missions were to define, promote and finance firstly programmes for epidemiological, experimental and sociological research into the effects of human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, particularly as used in electronic communications, and secondly programmes for disseminating to professionals and the general public the knowledge acquired concerning these effects.

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