European and international relations by area of expertise within ANSES
The Agency’s strategy in the international arena follows an inclusive approach integrating its health risk assessment, research, reference and surveillance activities, and its areas of expertise, i.e. occupational health, environmental health, food safety and nutrition, animal health and welfare, and plant health.
The European and international affairs department (DAEI), which reports directly to the Director General, is responsible for coordinating the activities carried out at the European and international levels by the various entities within the Agency. The department manages the preparation phase for implementation of the Agency’s cooperation strategies, and monitors their application. It ensures and fosters the presence, visibility and recognition of the Agency internationally and assists in developing partnerships. The DAEI is also responsible for the administrative and financial coordination of European projects coordinated by ANSES. It supports the Agency’s risk assessment, research and reference activities, and assists in preparing European project proposal dossiers.
Human food and nutrition
At a very early stage, the direct relationship between agriculture, the agro-food industry, the consumer and citizen was taken into account in public health policies at the national and European levels, and the concept of integrated “farm to fork” food management was adopted. Through its wide expert mandates covering both food and the environment, thanks to support from its various laboratories, and its role as advisor to the Joint laboratories service unit of the Ministry of the Economy, ANSES is now in a strategic position to further implement this approach. It can play an important role in acquiring and integrating data on microbiological and chemical risks related to plants, as highlighted specifically in the last two years by the issue of the potential “cocktail effects” of pesticides, and by major international epidemics. In collaboration with its partners, the Agency is specifically involved in methodological aspects such as the development of databases on contamination, on exposure and composition of foods, and assessment methodologies, as well as research (in partnership with EFSA) and risk assessment projects.
Animal health and veterinary medicinal products
In the field of animal health, the structure of ANSES is unique in Europe. The Agency includes experts in risk assessment, the French Agency for Veterinary Medicinal Products (ANMV), research and reference laboratories, and scientific and technical expert appraisal groups. This means that ANSES can bring teams together quickly to address emerging health issues. The effectiveness of the system is enhanced through training and prevention programmes in regions outside the European Union where risks may emerge, or regions through which animals travel. These actions are mostly carried out within the framework of projects managed by the Ministry of Agriculture or by supranational bodies such as the OIE and the FAO. The Agency is heavily involved with its partners in programmes concerning regulated diseases but also in those on emerging or re-emerging exotic diseases, and thus pools expertise with its European and international partners. Issues concerning veterinary medicinal products are increasingly managed at the European or even international level.
Within ANSES, the ANMV acts as the competent French authority in relation to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) but also as a collaborating centre of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). As part of the OIE network, the ANMV is a leader in terms of research, expert appraisals, standardisation and communication of applicable methodologies within its area of expertise. The Agency evaluates dossiers on veterinary medicinal products at the European level, and is strongly committed to the project to revise EU veterinary medicinal product legislation. It is also involved in the system for monitoring antimicrobial resistance, and participates in discussions held by expert groups from the EMA and by other groups internationally. The Agency sits on the Board of the Med-Vet-Net Network of Excellence, which has the primary aim of developing and disseminating scientific knowledge on zoonoses.
Environmental and occupational health
Risk assessment activities in environmental and occupational health are strongly rooted in the European context, whether as a result of regulatory harmonisation, risk assessments related to revision of EU regulatory requirements, or participation in expert appraisal actions. The Agency promotes a high level of transverse integration in risk assessment schemes. The aim is to take better account of the multiple routes of exposure to certain chemicals found in the environment (in water, air, food, etc.) to improve assessment of risks to the individual and to the population. This approach, which is based on recognised international practices, models, and studies, is implemented in collaboration with counterpart agencies at the international level. ANSES has hereby strengthened its cooperation with European, American and Canadian organisations that are particularly active in these fields. The close interactions between ANSES and these organisations specifically include research and development agreements aimed at acquiring data for the expert appraisals conducted by the Agency, and participation of scientists from these bodies as experts in the Agency’s working groups and expert committees. Furthermore, institutional cooperation has been implemented to reinforce existing relationships with counterpart organisations and to promote scientific exchanges, particularly concerning the development and update of common methodologies for assessment of hazards, measurement of exposure levels, and characterisation of risks.
Plant health (pesticides, biocides and fertilisers)
ANSES evaluates plant protection products, adjuvants, fertilisers, growing media and biocides in terms of their risks to humans, animals and the environment, as well as their benefits. It also carries out actions to assess chemical products within the framework of the European REACh Regulation (on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and the CLP Regulation (on Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Substances and Mixtures). Assessment methodologies for plant protection products and fertilisers are constantly being improved and scientists from the Agency involved in these evaluations are engaged in a number of projects intended to develop or optimise evaluation methodologies. These projects are most often undertaken in partnership with other organisations or in the framework of national, European or international working groups. Furthermore, to better anticipate risks and alerts concerning plant protection products, the Plant Health Laboratory is actively involved in surveillance networks in France and elsewhere in Europe. ANSES also has a convention with the Inter-States Pesticides Committee for Central Africa and through training activities contributes to control of pesticide approvals.