Posted by Andrew Wadge on 22 December 2006 in Science, safety and health
While you're enjoying a glass of wine over Christmas, you might wonder about how science can benefit winemaking.The Wine Standards Board merged with the Agency back in the summer so I now have plenty of opportunity to find out.
Advice about sensible drinking often refers to the fact that the alcoholic strength of wine has been increasing over the years as our taste has developed for full-bodied wines from the hotter wine-producing regions of the New World.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 21 December 2006 in Science in Government
As I've said before on this blog, food issues don't recognise national borders, so it's important that we co-ordinate our work with others working on common issues. It's good to see that the European Community has adopted formally its new Framework Programme for Research, FP7.
FP7 will provide 54 billion euros over the 7 years from 2007, including 1.9 billion euros for collaborative research on a theme of Food, Agriculture & Fisheries, and Biotechnology. While I might admit to a passing pang of envy at the size of this budget, I see this as a great opportunity to develop our co-ordination with European partners.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 18 December 2006 in Science in Government
It's a far cry from science, but my other big interest is organisational development. This is why I was asked to lead on developing a vision statement for the Agency.
It's been developed with help from colleagues across the organisation, and our Board members were updated on how we're getting on at their open meeting in London earlier this month. You can follow the debate on our webcast or podcast.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 15 December 2006 in Science, safety and health
We're consulting at the moment on how to increase young women’s intake of folic acid, to reduce the number of pregnancies affected by neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and I'm looking forward to the debate it will generate.
The consultation raises some important ethical issues, as well as scientific ones, particularly the possibility of mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid, which is what the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has recommended, alongside controls on voluntary fortification. As with any public health policy, we need to balance benefits against risks. It's important for the Agency to be open about this and involve the public and other stakeholders in finding a way forward that is both evidence-based and acceptable to people, which is what the consultation is all about.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 11 December 2006 in Science in Government
Some of my Agency colleagues did attend and I've now got my own copy.
The pamphlet focuses on the role of experts and the need to embrace a greater range of expertise. I was pleased to see the importance of lay members on expert committees was recognised and parallels drawn with the key governance role of non-executive directors of companies.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 08 December 2006 in Science, safety and health
An article in The Sun yesterday: 'Tis the season to be jolly…ill' included tips on preparing and cooking your turkey from my microbiologist colleague Dr Judith Hilton.
Bah humbug, I hear you cry (and it's still only December 7!), but there is a serious point to our seasonal food safety messages, part of a strategic aim to continue reducing foodborne disease after succeeding in bringing it down by over 19% in the past five years.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 06 December 2006 in Science, safety and health
Research into atypical scrapie, a brain disease recently identified in sheep, is one of those 'slow-burn' scientific issues. Studies are being done across Europe, including some the Agency is funding (DEFRA's doing some too). It could take several years before firm conclusions are reached. In the meantime there's an understandable desire for consumer advice and information, so we need to be up-front about what we know and what we don't know about this particular TSE.
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 05 December 2006 in Science in Government
Posted by Andrew Wadge on 01 December 2006 in Out and about
I've spent the past two days in Finland, meeting other national food agencies in Europe, the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to exchange ideas and information on current food safety and nutritional issues.
In the UK we're fortunate to have a well-developed network of scientific advisory committees, which provide us with independent expert advice on a range of food issues. Other Member States aren't in such a fortunate position, so we discussed a draft EFSA strategy on Co-operation and Networking on Scientific Issues with other EU Member States.>