Expert Panels at Work

The recent launch of the Healthy Animals, Healthy Canada report has capped off an especially busy summer at the Council. The next Council assessment set for release is the Expert Panel report on the Integrated Testing of Pesticides, to be published in early 2012. Several other assessments remain ongoing, updates on which can be found below:


The Integrated Testing of Pesticides

The Minister of Health (on behalf of the Pest Management Regulatory Agency) requested the Council assemble an expert panel to examine the scientific status of the use of integrated testing strategies for the regulatory risk assessment of pesticides. The work of the Expert Panel is now complete and this extensive and in-depth report is currently undergoing copy-editing and translation and is expected to be launched in early 2012. The Panel’s report will provide insight on the future of integrated approaches to testing and assessment for chemicals in general, and pesticides more specifically.

Approaches to Animal Health Risk Assessment

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assemble an expert panel to assess the state and comprehensiveness of risk assessment techniques in animal health science, specifically pertaining to risks which may impact human health. The Council assembled a 12-member multidisciplinary expert panel, chaired by Dr. Alastair Cribb, Professor and Dean at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Calgary.

The report, Healthy Animals, Healthy Canada was released on September 22, 2011. It can be downloaded from the Council’s website in both English and French.

“The well-being of animals and humans and the environment in which we live are linked in many ways,” said Dr. Cribb. “These links have become very apparent over the last decade as countries around the world have experienced, for example, SARS, BSE and H1N1. After examining the evidence, the Panel determined that although animal health risk assessment in Canada is built on a solid foundation of knowledge and expertise, risk assessment practices can be enhanced by taking a more integrated approach.”

Women in University Research

After the notable absence of female representation in the Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) program, the Minister of Industry requested that the Council undertake an assessment of the factors that influence the university research careers of women, both in Canada and internationally.

The Expert Panel on Women in University Research held its third meeting in Montréal, on August 2-3, 2011. The writing of the report is underway and evidence gathering is ongoing. The next panel meeting is scheduled for mid-November. Following this, the report will undergo a formal report review before being published in 2012.

Science Performance and Research Funding

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) requested the Council conduct an assessment examining the international practices and supporting evidence used to assess performance of research in the natural sciences and engineering disciplines.

The Expert Panel on Science Performance and Research Funding held its third meeting on July 28-29, 2011 in Toronto. A draft of the report is currently being prepared and the report is scheduled to undergo a formal report review in the coming months. The review period is an integral component of the Council’s overall assessment process. Following the review, the Panel will meet to address the reviewers’ comments and to finalize the content of the report. The report is expected to be published in 2012.

Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada

The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food asked the Council to provide a comprehensive evaluation of what additional science is needed to better guide the sustainable management of water to address the needs of Canadian agriculture.

A multidisciplinary panel of experts chaired by Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Chair in Water Security from the University of Saskatchewan, has been assembled to examine this issue. The Panel had their second meeting on September 12-13 in Saskatoon and is now focused on gathering and assessing the relevant evidence needed to respond to their charge.

The State of Science and Technology in Canada

The Minister of Industry has asked the Council of Canadian Academies to assess the state of science and technology (S&T) in Canada. The assessment on S&T will build on the Council’s inaugural report, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, released in 2006.The Council’s 2006 report highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian science and technology environment. This new assessment will include an expanded scope including trends since 2006 and the geographic distribution of S&T strengths across Canada. As part of this assessment, selected experts from across Canada were invited to participate in a survey of science and technology. Results are currently being collected.

The Expert Panel, chaired by Dr. Eliot A. Phillipson, the Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor of Medicine Emeritus at the University of Toronto, held their second meeting on September 19-20 in Toronto.

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