From evidence to confidence: science and the EU agencies

2 Jul 2019
Lausanne, Switzerland
World Federation of Science Journalists

The ECDC and EFSA Directors will be panel members of the session “From evidence to confidence: science and the EU agencies” at the World Conference of Science Journalists on 2 July 2019 (10:10 to 11:20h).

Glyphosate, GM crops, neonicotinoids - Experts at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have been bang in the middle of some of the biggest controversies that science journalists cover in Europe. But the agency has also been in the news itself with critics charging the agency lacks transparency and is too cosy with industry.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is involved in the public debate around immunisation, a topic where false claims and unverified stories proliferate. Navigating the growing gap in vaccine confidence is not just a challenge for journalists but public health in general.

If credibility levels are low during “peace time”, it is unlikely that the public will listen to these institutions during a real crisis and adopt potentially life-saving behaviours.

But how do you build trust? Are science and evidence-based health communication enough to rebut false claims and restore faith in the value of facts? How much involvement should scientists with ties to industry be allowed to have? What role do science journalists and agencies like ECDC and EFSA play in safeguarding objectivity and the power of facts? How much trust is warranted in the “evidence base” for public health advice on EU level? How much distrust is needed?

The heads of both EU agencies are coming to the WCSJ to discuss these questions and others with science journalists from around the globe.