Advising the European Commission on food safety

Monday 20 July 2015

Dr Stephen Parnell to advise the European Commission on food safety and plant health..

EPIDEMIOLOGIST Stephen Parnell is to advise the European Commission on food safety matters.

Dr Parnell, a plant disease epidemiologist and lecturer in Spatial Epidemiology in the School of Environment and Life Sciences, will provide scientific advice to the Commission’s ‘plant health’ expert panel within the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The three-year role is to provide the Commission with the best scientific information to help protect the continent from pests and diseases, which appear to be increasing due to climate change and increases in global trade and travel.

Recent examples include the Ash Dieback epidemic, which was first discovered in the UK in 2012 and is now widespread, and a bacterial disease caused by Xylella fastidiosa, which was found in Apulia in 2013 and now threatens olive production throughout Italy and is major risk to the EU territory. 

Safe food

The EC said it was appointing “highly qualified scientists” to help shape EFSA’s work in the next three years and make important contributions to ensuring that food remains safe for Europe’s 500 million consumers. 

Dr Parnell, who also works with Defra and the US Department of Agriculture, holds a PhD in mathematical modelling from the University of Cambridge where his thesis focused on the population dynamics and management of pesticide resistance in agriculture. 

A former Research Scientist at the BBSRC institute Rothamsted Research, he specialises in the use of modelling to detect and monitor plant disease and epidemics.