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BfR grants electronic access to files for first time

14/2019, 06.05.2019

Interested parties can read a summarised opinion on glyphosate from 2015 in the internet

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is receiving many inquiries in line with the Freedom of Information Act (IFG). Approx. 39,000 applications are currently being processed. The people making the inquiries are requesting an unpublished summary of a scientific opinion prepared by the BfR on the monograph produced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on the active substance glyphosate. The BfR has decided to make this opinion available to all applicants individually on a BfR website which is not publicly accessible.

"By doing so, the Institute is meeting its obligation to comply with the freedom of information act on the one hand," explains BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, "while upholding its copyright on its scientific results on the other". The BfR is taking this new course of action in order to comply with legal requirements regarding the transparency of decisions reached by public authorities and to reply to inquiries within an appropriate period of time.

The work of the BfR is distinguished by its scientific approach and active research in all areas that lie within its remit. Against this background, it is of vital importance to the BfR to establish who has the right of first publication to its scientific work results. By granting access to the document per internet, the BfR is providing all interested parties with the opportunity to learn about and discuss the content of the opinion in a transparent and uncomplicated manner. The BfR is granting access to the opinion through individual access data. Multiple login is also possible within seven days of first-time activation, which can be made within one year.

The publication by third parties of the English addendum to the renewal assessment report (RAR) of the BfR, as well as the summary of the opinion in German, is currently a matter of legal dispute before the Regional Court of Cologne. This legal dispute concerns fundamental issues of copyright law relating to the results of the scientific work undertaken by the BfR. Upon conclusion of the proceedings, the BfR will reach a decision on the publication of the German-language opinion about which inquiries are currently being made in accordance with the IFG. The English-language addendum has been publicly accessible on the EFSA homepage since 2015. All professional conclusions can therefore be accessed by the public.

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About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.


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