EFSA lists globalisation, climate change, new technologies and environmental pollution caused by agri-chemicals are among the major risks that the agri-food sector will face in future.
On 2 October, the EFSA management board adopted the agency’s work plan for the next five years.
Major areas of concern:
- further globalization in food trade which may increase likelihood of "new or re-emerging risks" such as mad cow disease (BSE)
- societal changes, including challenges posed by ageing societies such as health and diet and changes in consumer behaviour - as well as obesity and associated diseases
- new food production technologies like nanotechnology, cloning, genomics and proteomics (the study of proteins). The challenge here is also to upgrade existing and design new risk assessment practices to keep up with the pace of science and innovation.
- "the trend towards high-yielding, disease-free raw materials and the application of agrichemicals" could potentially contribute to the contamination of food and feed crops. Therefore, EFSA expects to carry out more environmental risk assessments in years to come.
- challenge of climate change, which is expected to change plant and animal disease distribution and, indirectly, the use of agri-chemicals.
A public consultation on the draft strategic plan is open until 3 November, after which the EFSA management board is expected to adopt the final plan before the end of 2008.