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Further reflections on EFSA’s work on uncertainty in scientific assessments


This is a perspective paper, discussing the ongoing developments on uncertainty analysis at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). These developments raise interesting questions, which have recently been addressed by several authors. These questions relate to the fundamentals of uncertainty analysis – what it actually is and can do, the link between uncertainty analysis and risk, and how the uncertainties should be best communicated. The paper discusses these issues. It argues that the current EFSA guidance document provides valuable insights and recommendations concerning uncertainty analysis in scientific assessments but is subject to several severe weaknesses, which could seriously hamper effective implementation. A key point made is that the EFSA understanding and use of probabilities to represent and describe uncertainties, which is based on a betting type of interpretation, is unfortunate and should be replaced by a more suitable approach. It is a key message of the present paper that the concepts of risk and knowledge need to be more strongly highlighted in the EFSA guidelines.

Keywords: Uncertainty analysis, EFSA, ris


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