Why we think that Europe needs a Chief Scientific Advisor
Open letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, President-elect of the European Commission
Dear Mr Juncker,
We are writing in support of the recently created position of Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA) to the President of the European Commission. This post was inaugurated by Mr Barroso, who in 2012 appointed Prof Anne Glover to the post.
We are aware of the fact that several institutions and groups have written both for and against the work of Prof Glover and the opportunity for Europe to continue with the post of Chief Scientific Advisor. In particular we would like to draw your attention to a letter written by nine NGOs (including Greenpeace) which has complained about the fact that “Until now, the role of Chief Scientific Adviser has been unaccountable, opaque and controversial”. The letter also cited the highly controversial issue of genetically modified organisms, claiming to speak on behalf of the media and in the public interest.
As science journalists, we strongly believe that increased accountability and transparency is required at all levels in the European decision-making process, including in the function of the CSA role. Furthermore, we strongly believe that the best available scientific evidence must be the cornerstone to start building a consensus, especially on such controversial topics. At the same time we know that there are issues in which the best available scientific evidence is not conclusive, and leaves uncertainty for society – and policy makers – to face and live with.
It is to this end, that we call on you to appoint a successor for the post of Chief Scientific Advisor with a five year term of office at your earliest convienence. This will allow the Advisor to present to all European citizens and media the best available scientific evidence. The Chief Scientific Advisor must be given a mandate to analyze and discuss with the citizens, through the media, all the vast myriad of factors – including financial, economic, cultural, social, and even psychological – that can and often do negatively affect the scientific process, sometimes weakening its conclusions.
Joost van Kasteren
on behalf of the European Federation for Science Journalism
The European Federation for Science Journalism is an initiative led by eight National Associations of Science Journalists – from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Kingdom – to promote the values of independent science journalism in Europe and abroad. (For more info: www.efsj.eu)