Is the regulatory framework on risk in Europe harming or helping innovation? Is it possible to agree criteria for the use of scientific evidence in policy making? What do we mean by acceptable levels of risk? How can we address public mistrust in industry-funded research?
These and other challenging questions were debated at a two-day conference organised in Brussels by PlasticsEurope on 5-6 November. The conference, ‘Safety of Plastics: Let’s Talk about it!’ brought together senior figures from the worlds of industry, science, civil society and politics to address concerns about the safety of plastics, along with broader questions around the application of risk regulation in Europe.
PlasticsEurope said the aim of the conference was to provide a platform for different viewpoints and debate practical steps that can be taken to build consensus on these sensitive issues. It also looked to establish an open and constructive multi-stakeholder dialogue.
“The plastics industry firmly believes that scientific evidence should always be the cornerstone of risk assessment. However, there are often additional considerations at play, and simply dismissing them as unscientific does not help anybody. We need to get better at listening to the concerns of different stakeholders about our products, and this conference is an important part of that process. We are convinced that by working together, we can identify real solutions that help build trust in the regulatory process,” said Patrick Thomas, President of PlasticsEurope
Building on the theme of trust and openness, keynote speaker, Professor Anne Glover, stressed the importance of communicating and translating the scientific wealth of knowledge in Europe to citizens.
“We need to capture our scientific excellence in Europe. As a society we need to take risks if we want to enjoy the rewards. If we fail to do this, the main loser is the citizen. Citizens pay for the bulk of the research, and they should demand impact from what they spend. We let them down if we do not manage the process properly,” Glover concluded.