Appointments to the Science Council

Last updated:
9 March 2017
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Food Standards Agency Chair Heather Hancock has announced the appointment of a Chair and seven members to the Agency’s new Science Council. The Council will provide high-level, expert and independent advice and challenge to the Agency on how it uses science to underpin its work.

Professor Sandy Thomas will Chair the Council. Professor Thomas is Director of the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition and an Honorary Professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. She has extensive experience of leading, convening and generating cross-disciplinary analysis and strategic science to inform policy; and was Head of the UK Government’s Foresight Programme from 2007 to 2015.

The seven newly appointed members of the Council are: Professor Laura Green, Professor John O’Brien, Professor Sarah O’Brien, Mr Mark Rolfe, Dr Paul Turner, Professor Patrick Wolfe and Professor Mark Woolhouse. Mr Rolfe has been appointed to the role of Member bringing insights on the public’s perspectives.

Heather Hancock said; “Science is at the heart of the FSA’s work to protect public health and for people to have food they can trust. We have created our new Science Council to be confident that we are using robust and rigorous science to identify emerging risk, to find the right solutions to public health concerns, and so that our future priorities in food safety and standards are informed by the best science available. 

"I am delighted that Sandy Thomas has agreed to chair the Council, bringing her outstanding track record in foresight and science strategy, and that she will be joined by such distinguished colleagues with national and international standing.”

Professor Guy Poppy, Chief Scientific Adviser at the FSA, said; “I look forward to working with this highly talented group. They bring a wealth of expertise, experience and wider networks across a wider range of fields. They will help me as FSA’s CSA to ensure we identify opportunities to use leading-edge science and forge new partnerships to develop and inform FSA’s work. They will also be an invaluable critical friend, challenging me and the FSA where necessary on how we ensure FSA’s science remains vibrant and robust, thus helping ensure people have food they can trust.”

Sandy Thomas said: “I am very much looking forward to beginning my role as Chair of the FSA’s new independent Science Council. The UK is a world leader in its open approach to using science and evidence to improve and assure food safety throughout the food system. Working alongside Professor Guy Poppy, I am confident that the new Council will be well placed to provide high quality advice to inform the FSA's work”.

The establishment of the Science Council implements a key recommendation of the FSA’s Triennial Review of its Scientific Advisory Committees. The Council will be an expert committee of the FSA, providing high level, strategic insight and challenge to the Agency on its use of science. It will come into being on 1 April 2017.

The Council will supersede the Agency’s existing General Advisory Committee on Science (GACS). The GACS will be formally dissolved as of 31 March 2017.

The recruitment exercise for the new Science Council was carried out through open competition. Members have been appointed for initial terms of between three and five years, with the possibility of reappointment. There will be a review point in year two, to allow the FSA to take stock on how the new Council is operating and whether any adjustments are needed.