IFT has announced that Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, Executive Director, European Food Safety Authority, will be the third Beacon Lecturer at this summer’s 2013 IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo. Scheduled to speak on July 14, 2013, from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m., Geslain-Lanéelle will be presenting on “Can Science Do More to Support Food Policy? The European Union Experience.”
Europe faced a series of food safety crises around the turn of this century related to, among other things, BSE, Salmonella, dioxin contamination, and the use of chemicals in the food chain. Faced with public disquiet over the safety of the food on citizens’ plates, the near collapse of the European beef trade, and a deteriorating political milieu, legislators took the momentous decision to separate science from politics and to elevate the role of science in the policy making process. The enactment of the General Food Law in 2002 marked a watershed moment in the history of European food safety and gave birth to the European Food Safety Authority, the European Union’s independent risk assessment body.
A decade later, Europe can reflect on the relative merits and demerits of this food safety governance model, which has aroused global interest and been emulated elsewhere. Many factors have changed in EFSA’s operating environment during that decade, not the least of which is the economic crisis, which threatens the livelihoods of many and forces regulatory authorities worldwide to reconsider their return on investment for citizens. Ironically, while the need for evidence-based policy is gaining widespread acceptance, public trust in the scientific process and in scientists themselves is coming under increasing pressure. In parallel, there is a growing demand for greater social involvement in the democratic process and civil society groups have emerged as significant players in food policy decisions. Meanwhile, science advances relentlessly and complex food technologies are emerging with the potential to revolutionize our food production processes, aided by the easier transfer of technology from academia to industry.
Against this backdrop, Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle draws on her experience as Executive Director of EFSA since 2006, as a risk manager in the European Commission and in France, and as Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on General Principles to chart European progress in establishing evidence-based food policy, and to identify the key future challenges facing the risk assessment community.
About Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle
Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle has been EFSA’s Executive Director since July 2006. Her renewed five-year mandate started on 1 July 2011. Throughout her career, Geslain-Lanéelle has held several positions of responsibility within the food sector. In 2000, she was appointed Director General of the Food Dept. within the French Agricultural Ministry at the height of the BSE crisis in France. In this post, she was responsible for managing health risks related to food, animal health and welfare, and plant protection as well as risk communications. Geslain-Lanéelle remained in this post until April 2003 when she became Regional Director of Agriculture and Forestry for the Ile de France region. She has held a number of international positions, notably as Chair of the Codex Alimentarius Committee on General Principles in 2001 and 2002, as well as Deputy Director of the French Dept. of International Trade from 1998 to 2000, managing French food aid. Here she worked closely with the European Commission and several other international organizations, working to promote the European agricultural model. She also worked at the European Commission from 1991 to 1993 as a National Expert at DG III (DG Industry and Internal Market) in the area of food safety. Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle has a Master of Science from the Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon and from the Ecole Nationale du Génie Rural, des Eaux et des Forêts.
About the Beacon Lecturers
The lectures made their debut in 2011 as a vehicle for adding new perspectives to the Annual Meeting with presentations by high-profile individuals capable of imparting cutting-edge, game-changing perspectives on food science and technology. The format for the lectures is a 30-minute presentation followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session.