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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

ANSES's first anniversary

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News of 01/07/2011

1 July 2011

One year ago two agencies, AFSSA(1) and AFSSET(2) merged to create ANSES, an independent scientific establishment with a broad mission encompassing all aspects of human, animal and plant health, and considering human beings in their environment in the widest sense of the term. The new agency is a precursor model for other countries as its sphere of competence is cross-functional with the aim of providing guaranteed, independent public health expertise and openness to issues of interest to civil society. One year later, here are the main projects undertaken by the Agency both for building the institution and furthering scientific knowledge.

A fully operational Agency

The creation of ANSES was preceded by a phase during which all of the stakeholders were consulted in order to conceive an original type of governance based on the same idea as for the 5 colleges of the Grenelle round table on the environment and which would involve civil society to a large degree. The first months of existence for ANSES were thus devoted to setting up its innovative governance structure. The Agency's Board of Administrators and Scientific Board were created during the third quarter of 2010. At the same time, four thematic orientation committees were set up for environmental health, occupational health, animal health and food safety and nutrition. These committees, a significant innovation of the ANSES governance model, brought together more than 100 stakeholders to discuss the four main areas of expertise of the Agency thus giving it a sounding board for civil society and enabling it to determine its priorities accordingly, in addition to taking account of the results achieved.
ANSES's Committee for ethical standards and prevention of conflicts of interest, the last building block in the governance structure, was set up the first six months of 2011 and has already been asked to rule on several major issues.

An Agency which is gaining momentum

The first year of existence for the agency also witnessed a great deal of scientific production since nearly 2000 Opinions and reports were published. With its high-quality work and its commitment to openness and transparency, ANSES, since its creation, has been gradually and steadily staking out its position as a new public health authority. Its work on the risks related to weight-loss diets, to environmental asbestos, its involvement in implementation of the REACh regulation, the warnings it has issued about food supplements, based on data from the new nutrivigilance scheme, or in another area, on the hazards of certain types of LED lighting are just some of the issues in which the Agency has been involved during its first year. Finally the publication on 30 June of the results of a major study on dietary intake and exposure of the French population to chemical contaminants has confirmed the Agency's legitimate mission of informing the French public about health and safety issues which affect their daily lives.

Quite recently, in response the E. Coli O104:H4 health crisis in Europe, the Agency mobilised a large part of its resources by getting its food safety laboratory in Maison-Alfort, in record time, to deploy a test for detecting the E. coli bacteria implicated in the crisis and which had been particularly rare until now. This episode illustrates the value added by the 12 ANSES laboratories and its capacity to provide expertise in an emergency.

Projects for the coming year

During its first year of existence, ANSES has also undertaken and continued extensive work which should yield results during the second year. This includes research in many areas, among which endocrine disruptors, the taking into account of cumulative exposure to several substances ("cocktail" effects), hazards related to radio frequencies, the implementation of the new regulation governing plant protection products, potential hazards related to nanotechnologies, the fight against antimicrobial resistance and also occupational exposure to pesticides.

Find out more

(1) The French Food Safety Agency
(2) The French Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety