Its expertise activity is based on several foundations: the French standard for "Quality in expertise", ANSES's own Guide to Good Practice and Code of Ethics, the Committee for ethical(1) standards and prevention of conflicts of interest, and finally the whole foundation as found in the current legal rules and regulations.
Good practices for collective expert assessment
The reliance on collective expert assessment for evaluating health risks is one of the basic principles set down in the founding charter on which ANSES is based. For this activity the Agency applies the French standard NF X 50-110 on "Quality in expertise activities - general requirements of competence for an expertise activity" and is drawing up its own good practice guide.
Collective expert assessment is organised according to a procedure for selecting and bringing together experts from various fields to consider a particular issue, take into account all of the available scientific knowledge, organise collective hearings and debate for all of the experts' opinions and hypotheses and then to issue opinions and/or recommendations which are systematically made public.
These principles have been set down in 2 framework documents that were adopted by the Board of Administration in 2010: Basic principles and key points for expert appraisal and ANSES’s own Code of ethical standards.
Collective expert assessment thus guarantees that all of the knowledge and data on a particular issue are taken into account in order to be able to issue an independent opinion after considering all hypotheses.
In practice ANSES recruits most of its experts through public calls for candidates. All potential candidates have to sign a commitment to respect the Agency's ethical rules and they are only appointed once their public declarations of interests (which are mandatory and must be kept up-to-date) have been examined.
- The expert appraisal must be conducted collectively at all stages, from the initial presentation of data, through successive discussion and debate to the final conclusions.
The Committee for ethical standards and prevention of conflicts of interests
An ethics officer at ANSES
The French law of 26 January 2016 on the modernisation of the health care system specifies that an ethics officer must be appointed for each public health organisation and Manuelle Vertot, Director of the Legal Affairs Unit, has been appointed in this capacity for the Agency.
She will conduct her ethical officer activities for a three-year period with the support of all the Agency's departments, while taking into consideration the opinions and recommendations of ANSES's Committee for ethical standards and prevention of conflicts of interest.
(1)Ethics is understood as the "moral code of rules specific to a profession" - L.-M Morfaux, Vocabulaire de la philosophie et des sciences humaines, Paris, Armand Colin. 1980.