BfR Annual Report 2013 - page 4

BfR | Annual Report 2013
Dear Readers,
“Avoiding crises before they occur” – this is the slogan BfR has used
to describe the goal of its scientific work since it was founded. To the
extent that we can measure these things, 2013 was yet another year
in which not many crises occurred, whether genuine or crises as por-
trayed in the media. This is a strong indication for the high standard of
food safety in Germany as well as an attestation of the effective work
of the BfR. The institute has succeeded in facilitating the transfer of
knowledge to all relevant stakeholders – in politics, industry and to the
population at large. This is done based on high scientific standards
but also in a way that is understandable for specific target groups.
This is proof that transparency and independence which are standard
criteria laid down by the BfR founding law are valuable and key factors
in building trust among all stakeholders.
Both nationally and internationally, the BfR plays an increasingly lead-
ing role as a scientific reference institute. This involves the progressive
increase of BfR's international contacts. One example is the coopera-
tion with food safety authorities in Iceland. Together with the Lower
Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, the BfR
is helping the Icelandic authorities – the Icelandic Agency for Food
Safety and Veterinary Medicine (MAST) and the Icelandic Institute for
Food and Biotechnology (MATIS) – to create new capacities for official
monitoring and laboratory testing. The main focus of this cooperation
is: pesticide residues, chemical contamination and genetically modi-
fied organisms in food and feed.
Irrespective of this, the BfR also faces new internal challenges that
necessitate a continuous process of structural change. New legal
tasks, annual budget cuts and the expansion of our remit in existing
areas of responsibility have made it necessary to reorganise the ex-
pert groups within the BfR and adapt these groups in terms of person-
nel. The objectives included meeting the extended requirements in the
field of the European REACH legislation on chemicals or fulfilling the
new responsibilities created by the amendment of the German Animal
Welfare Act. The structural adjustment measures were initiated in 2013
and implemented at the beginning of 2014 – and are already having
their first effects.
The BfR attaches major importance to supporting the advancement of
scientists. Currently, over 40 PhD candidates have the opportunity to
work on their scientific qualifications at the BfR, in developing meth-
ods, collecting data or conducting applied research. This is an impor-
tant contribution to improving risk assessment practices. In 2013, the
BfR decided to go a step further and will break new ground in 2014 by
establishing its own PhD programme. This will include in addition to a
content-based scientific supervision, measures to promote the devel-
opment of soft skills.
Prof. Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President
Prof. Dr. Reiner Wittkowski, Vice-President
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