Technology ANSES’s scientific council wants to strengthen the credibility of the health security agency

ANSES’s scientific council wants to strengthen the credibility of the health security agency

A report points to the “tensions” weighing on the expertise of the public establishment, while the publication of some of its opinions in recent years has sparked heated controversy.

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The premises of ANSES in Maisons-Alfort, in the Paris suburbs, on April 6, 2017. (GARO / PHANIE / AFP)

It’s a blow to “scientific credibility” the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES). The scientific council of the public establishment, composed largely of independent scientists, alerts on “the credibility of the Agency’s expertise”revealed The world (article subscribers). Work undertaken when the publication of certain opinions (glyphosate, neonicotinoids, etc.) in recent years has sparked heated controversy, with ANSES sometimes in sharp disagreement with institutions or members of the scientific community.

The council concludes, in a report (in PDF) discreetly published on Friday March 10, that the scientific expertise of the agency is subject to “three great tensions”. The first is “a gap between scientific knowledge and the results of expertise”factor of “controversies”because of “the need to take into account the most advanced scientific knowledge while relying on clear rules shared by all the players concerned”.

Mix of genres

The second voltage is related to the shift between “the urgency of rendering certain opinions” and the “time needed to carry out a quality scientific expertise”which leads to the production of “results (…) weakened”. Finally, the report points out the fact that, since 2015, ANSES has been responsible for assessing the risks associated with certain products (pesticides, veterinary medicinal products, etc.) but also their marketing authorization, or not, which which induces a harmful mixing of genres according to the council.

The report makes many proposals for “limit the risks of questioning the expertise” of the agency. Among these is the fact of “promoting scientific diversity” within ANSES,“refine the treatment of links of interest”of “strengthen the application of the rules of collective expertise”and to systematically indicate in publications “the level of uncertainty, the scientific controversies” and the gap between the assessment carried out and the knowledge produced outside the limits necessary for them to be taken into account in the expert appraisal.

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