Openness to society, one of ANSES's core values
The Agency’s founding texts stipulate that its mission is to "supply information, provide training and distribute scientific and technical documentation, as well as to contribute to public debate, which it fosters and encourages."
Forums for exchange and interaction with "stakeholders"
In practical terms, the forums for exchange and interaction with "stakeholders" set up within Anses operate at two levels: that of governance and during the expert appraisal process.
The first level includes the participation of stakeholders on the Board of Administrators, and on the Thematic Steering Committees covering the Agency's areas of activity (food safety, occupational health, environmental health, plant health, animal health and welfare). These five committees, which have an advisory role, help in defining the Agency's policy orientations and determining needs in terms of risk assessment and research.
The system was supplemented by the creation – respectively in 2011 and 2012 – of two dialogue committees: "Radiofrequencies and health" and "Nanomaterials and health". The creation of these bodies was an important step towards establishing lasting exchanges on these controversial subjects, between the Agency's scientists and experts, citizen groups, trades unions and industry players.
Lastly, a process of dialogue on activities related to marketing authorisations for plant protection products was initiated in late 2017. The establishment of a platform for dialogue in 2018 should help maintain trust and improve understanding of assessment methods, access to data and changes to the regulatory framework.
The second level of stakeholder involvement concerns the expert appraisal process itself and covers both the framing of the work and its dissemination (hearings, public consultations, presentation of the work, etc.). Such an approach should contribute to the scientific robustness and social relevance of the opinions and reports produced by the Agency, by taking into account questions and expectations liable to guide the way the expert appraisal is carried out, and collecting information and knowledge held by these stakeholders. In addition, while most of its work is conducted in response to formal requests from its supervisory ministries, ANSES may issue internal requests on its own initiative, or receive requests from organisations such as state-approved associations or employee trades unions.
The charter on openness to society
Initiated in 2008, the charter on openness to society has been extended to new members over the years. It was signed by Anses for the first time in 2011, and has had eight signatories since 2020. Through their research, expert appraisal and/or scientific and technical assessment activities, these public establishments share a common ambition: to facilitate a better understanding of risks and how they can be prevented and reduced. They also share the same belief that this ambition should address growing calls from citizens, concerned about health and environmental risks, to take an active part in the knowledge and assessment of risks. In adopting this charter, and in the same spirit of shared values, they are renewing their commitment to a process of openness and transparency towards society to benefit public debate and decision-making.