The Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM) carries out independent risk assessments for the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) and the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet).
In carrying out independent risk assessments, VKM plays an important role towards ensuring that Norwegian consumers have safe food and towards protecting the environment.
The Scientific Panels comprise about 100 independent experts with broad interdisciplinary competencies.
A risk assessment conducted by VKM is a review, summary, and objective assessment of scientific documentation available to determine the risk associated with a particular situation or action. Scientific results and data used in our risk assessments are obtained from peer-reviewed articles and published documents, including risk assessments from national and international bodies, and from national and international surveillance and monitoring.
Risk assessments conducted by VKM follow the current international standards and methodology in the respective fields of responsibility of VKM’s panels.
VKM has 11 scientific panels, with areas of responsibility that largely correspond to those of the EFSA panels. The Scientific Steering Committee discusses guidelines and principles for the work in VKM, coordinates the risk assessments that are being developed by more than one panel, and finalizes the most comprehensive risk assessments.
VKM was established in 2004. The committee is appointed by the Ministry of Health and Care Services.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health administration includes the secretariat for VKM. VKM is organized as an independant body, and therefore the institute cannot instruct the secretariat as to how perform their duties.
The establishment of VKM was based on the principles for risk analysis as defined in Codex Alimentarius and in the European Union Food Law.
This means that the scientific assessment of health and environmental risks is separate and distinct from the risk management and that the whole process is conducted in an open and transparent way.
VKM only accepts requests for risk assessments from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and Norwegian Environment Agency. VKM may also undertake risk assessments on its own initiative, known as self-tasking, thereby ensuring that topics that are considered important and relevant are scientifically assessed, even if they are not on the list of priorities by other public bodies.
VKM has its own secretariat and budget. The Ministry of Health and Care Services, other ministries, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian Environment Agency or others do not have the authority to influence or interfere in the scientific work of the committee.