SETAC Globe - Environmental Quality Through Science
10 August 2017
Volume 18 Issue 8

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A Letter from the SETAC Europe President

Anne Alix, SETAC Europe President

Anne Alix

It is with great honor that I succeeded José-Julio Ortega-Calvo this past May at the SETAC North America 27th Annual Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, hence walking in the footsteps of 27 SETAC Europe presidents before me. Each of them worked to make SETAC Europe the recognized, renowned and reliable scientific society that it is today. I will happily take on this important role to continue our work towards this great objective.

SETAC has been in my professional life for almost my entire career, and especially since 2001, when I left the area of field experimentations, as part of integrated pest management in agriculture production, to join the world of regulatory risk assessment. My career has lead me to work in academia, at the Institut National de Recherche Agronomique (INRA), followed by a role in a governmental organization, at the French Ministry of Agriculture, and now in industry, at Dow AgroSciences. As a young risk assessor back in 2001, I met my new colleagues from other European agencies at the SETAC Europe 11th Annual Meeting in Madrid, Spain, and we have continued to collaborate through the short courses we organized on risk assessment, as well as through other workshops and their proceedings, SETAC Europe Special Science Symposia and SETAC Interest (formerly Advisory) Groups.  This led to the production of risk assessment guidance documents, two books and even musical performances at SETAC annual meeting opening ceremonies!  If I had only one wish for all SETAC members, it would be that each of you would benefit from the same wealth of scientific and human gifts that SETAC has given me throughout these years. This is what the SETAC Europe Council, its committees and all of you are hopefully working towards. This is what has made SETAC the unique scientific society it is today.

Providing our members with a scientific society that can offer all these benefits does not come without challenges. The SETAC Europe Long Range Planning Committee identified and discussed both the benefits and the challenges in various fora, which fed into further brainstorming activities. At the heart of our discussions was the need to maintain and, where needed, improve the support and value we provide to our members. The committee drafted a long list of actions last year, which will work towards these goals: improve the organization of annual meetings, better value the scientists involved in our interest groups and committees, and value the work of our members and promote their scientific input, using the best of communication tools and (social) networks available. 

But the society, which includes regulatory bodies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, industries, services companies and the general public, needs reliable scientific input to support policies, decision-making, risk management and innovation and to contribute towards education and public knowledge. Informed opinion and decision start with awareness, and the Long Range Planning Committee also listed a series of actions for SETAC to better serve all our stakeholders and establish trustworthy communication and collaboration with our scientific network. The Global Horizon Scanning Project, which was launched two years ago, is a great example of fruitful collaboration between SETAC and our stakeholders, as is the role SETAC has taken on with the stakeholder bureau at EFSA (European Food Safety Authority). 

More fundamentally, each of us needs dialogue and collaboration to challenge our own ways of thinking and to consolidate our approaches so that we can improve our input to the scientific knowledge. We progress, evolve and build within these networks where we can share and confront ideas and enrich our thinking. Each of our organizations benefit from our own enrichment. This is why SETAC is always looking to provide our members with the most adapted working groups and discussion platforms, and this is why we regularly evaluate and revise the way these groups and fora are designed, so that they continue to meet the needs of our members. We hope to welcome many of you in these groups and fora, and to hear back from you on how we can better serve, support and value you in your scientific mission. 

With this, I wish you all a rich and exciting “SETAC year” and look forward to meeting you during upcoming events!

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