New scientific advice body in Europe a ‘step in right direction’ says union

An announcement by the European Commission that a new body will be established to provide scientific advice is cautious step in the right direction, but time is of the essence if the commission is to ensure sound policy-making, says the NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie.

In November 2014, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker abolished the post of Chief Scientific Adviser to the Commission, held by Scottish biologist Professor Anne Glover. Mr Juncker then tasked the Commissioner for research, Carlos Moedas, to put forward suggestions for how scientific advice could still be put forward.

Yesterday, President Juncker and Commissioner Moedas met with a high level group of independent scientists who will now be responsible for coordinating national academies and other scientific bodies in providing advice to the commission.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie commented: “Abolishing the post of Chief Scientific Adviser in November last year was a backward step. We firmly believe that policy-making in Europe ought to be driven by science therefore we are pleased to see the commission making progress on this issue.

“However, we will be continuing to ensure that this is a genuine effort to ensure that policy is free from politics. We would expect this body to be as robust as Professor Anne Glover was and stand up for science in the policy making that comes out of Europe.

“We have a high quality of science resources here in Scotland which can play a key role in the delivery of sound scientific advice to this new body which is relevant to Scotland, the UK and other parts of Europe.

“Science can provide us with enormous possibilities, particularly as Europe’s farmers attempt to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population in volatile market conditions.

“We remain committed to the idea that research and innovation should be at the heart of everything the commission is trying to do.

“Since Professor Glover’s post was abolished last year, the commission has already brought forward unhelpful legislation on re-nationalising the authorisation process of GM.

“We cannot afford to lose any more time and so we urge the commission to establish its new body as soon as possible so genuine, impartial scientific advice can be embedded into European policy-making.”

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