Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson met with Vytenis Andriukaitis, the new Commissioner for Health and Food Safety in Strasbourg this week.
Before becoming Commissioner Dr Andriukaitis, a surgeon by profession, served as Minister of Health in his native Lithuania.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Nicholson said it was a welcome opportunity to discuss his priorities for the next five years.
“The Health and Food Safety portfolio is a wide ranging and important brief and many aspects of it have a direct impact on the agri-food industry,” he said.
“The Commissioner’s responsibilities include key issues such as food safety, public health, antibiotic resistance and of course the highly emotive topic of GM technology.
“During our meeting I voiced my concerns about Jean-Claude Juncker’s recent decision to scrap the post of Chief Scientific Advisor.
“The abolition of this key post, despite previous assurances from Mr Juncker that it would be retained in his Commission, sends out the wrong signal in terms of the EU’s approach to science.
“Given the nature of the challenges we face science should be at the centre of EU decision-making and clarity is now needed as to how scientific advice will be provided to President Juncker and his team of Commissioners in the future.”
The role of research and innovation in tackling the challenges which relate to the Health and Food Safety portfolio, novel foods, EU seed legislation and the on-going EU-US trade negotiations were also discussed.
Mr Nicholson concluded: “I welcome that Commissioner Andriukaitis appears to be putting his pledge to engage proactively with MEPs into action and I look forward to working closely with him in the future.”