Joint FAO/WHO Nutrient Risk Assessment Workshop: A model for establishing upper levels of intake for nutrients and related substances
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) plan to convene a scientific workshop on nutrient risk assessment on 2 - 6 May 2005 in Geneva. The workshop participants are being charged with the development of an internationally applicable approach (or 'model') intended to specify the scientific process of nutrient risk assessment. Such a model, when developed, can be used in the future to identify upper levels of intake for nutrients and related substances. The workshop tasks do not include identifying such levels of intake, but rather address the important first step of establishing a scientifically sound approach for assessing the risk, if any, associated with nutrients and related substances. The charges to workshop participants focus exclusively on the scientific decisions related to the nutrient risk assessment process and do not address nutrient risk management decisions or policy setting activities.
FAO/WHO Charges to the Workshop: Workshop participants will specify a scientifically valid international model to establish upper levels of intake and conduct nutrient risk assessment. As part of this process participants will:
- As a starting point consider the existing major paradigms for nutrient risk assessment developed at the national and regional level (note: other paradigms or frameworks that are available in the public domain also may be taken into account);
- Develop the essential components/characteristics of hazard identification and hazard characterization to provide for a uniform approach to these activities internationally;
- Identify general principles for harmonizing the process (rather than the outcome) of exposure assessment and risk characterization which by their nature vary from region to region because the relevant data vary from region to region;
- Check the model (and its application of the principles) by testing it using several representative nutrients or substances, specifically Vitamin A, Iron and Vitamin C/Antioxidant;
- Work within the initial context of a model relevant to adequately nourished populations, and then identify the special considerations needed to apply the model to inadequately nourished populations.
Plans for the FAO/WHO workshop include soliciting public input for this activity at two points in time. The first request for input occurred between 1 November 2004 and 7 January 2005. On 1 November, FAO/WHO posted a Background Paper on their web sites which outlined key issues and the scientific challenges related to nutrient risk assessment. The Background Paper also asked a series of questions. All interested persons were invited to submit comments and responses to the questions through 10 December. The comments received were posted on the website so that all could see the input provided. A Call for Information was also conducted from 1 November to 7 January. Both the comments in response to the Background Paper and the materials received as a result of the Call for Information will be made available to the scientific experts who will take part in the workshop.
The second opportunity for public input will occur at the time the report of the workshop is completed. The report will be posted on the FAO/WHO websites for public comment. Comments received will be taken into consideration before the report is considered for distribution by FAO/WHO.
In order to assist FAO/WHO in identifying scientific experts qualified to take part in the workshop, a Call for Experts was issued and posted on the websites. Applications to be considered to serve as an expert could be submitted electronically or by mail from 24 November until 7 January 2005.
The qualifications for experts were outlined in the Call for Experts. As described in the Call for Experts, qualifications included among other factors training as well as professional experience at the national and/or international level in the areas of nutrition, toxicology, dietary exposure, statistics, food technology, biochemistry, pharmacology and other closely related disciplines. Overall, the selection process will take into account appropriate interdisciplinary balance of expertise as well as equitable geographical representation and gender balance. Should FAO/WHO find that certain expertise is lacking among the pool of candidates, FAO/WHO may seek additional experts to add to the pool of candidates as needed. The selection of workshop participants is conducted collectively by FAO/WHO and is not the responsibility of individual staff members. Persons who made applications in response to the Call for Experts and who are not selected will be notified of their non-selection by e-mail no later than 18 February.
Consistent with WHO procedures for the meetings of experts, the workshop is of a private character and will not be open to the public. The names of persons selected to serve as workshop experts will not be announced until the workshop report is finalized and distributed.
This web site contains all the information now available about the workshop on nutrient risk assessment. Please note that World Health Organization: Basic Documents (44th ed, October 2002) is available on the WHO web site:
The documents referred to above can be viewed using the following links: