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Codex to explore its statements of principle on role of science to help find consensus on controversial issues


An informal meeting held online on Wednesday 2 February 2022 began to explore how a Codex Executive sub-committee will approach their task to provide operational guidance on the statements of  principle in the Procedural Manual concerning the role of science in the Codex decision-making process and the extent to which other factors are taken into account.

The statements being considered uphold science while recognizing the relevance of so-called “other factors” when setting standards in Codex. Examples of those factors include constraints, especially in developing countries regarding production or processing methods or even economic interests and trade issues if backed up by data.

In what Tom Heilandt, Codex Secretary, defined as “deep Codex … work that really goes to the core of Codex”, participants will be asked to outline a way forward that will later be suggested to the wider membership and hopefully contribute to break the deadlock on setting maximum residue limits for growth hormone promoters such as zilpaterol.

Steve Wearne, Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, opening the meeting, said he was working with the three vice-chairpersons “to ensure an inclusive, transparent and resilient Codex that is respected across the world for its commitment to consensus-driven and science-based standards.”

The sub-committee will be led by Vice-Chairperson, Raj Rajasekar from New Zealand. “I have no illusions about the complexities and the challenges” of this work, he said. “The subject matter itself may not be new. But what I do believe we are trying to do here is see if we can find a different approach.”

The sub-committee will work to see how to address not merely the challenges that have been the focus of the statements of principle in the past, but also to see, said Rajasekar, “whether they have a much broader relevance and application in a rapidly changing world where we are facing a lot of different issues and challenges.”

Promoting a common understanding of the principles and developing practical guidance, ultimately to Codex chairpersons, will be a step forward for Codex in consensus-based decision making and the development of standards.


Learn more

Executive Committee paper on the Statements of Principle published in October 2021

Codex Procedural Manual

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