MSc Toxicology & Regulatory Affairs graduate Stephanie Earl writes about her experience completing a Toxicology based research internship…

This past summer, I was required to undertake an internship and complete a toxicology-based research project as part of the MSc Toxicology & Regulatory Affairs. I was afforded the opportunity to work alongside Lynn Boylan MEP as a Toxicology and Regulatory Affairs consultant and researcher in the European Parliament Environment, Public Health & Food Safety Committee.

My research involved investigating the possible implications on food standards if UK/US agreement occurs post Brexit. I worked comparing and contrasting the different jurisdictional regulations relating to agriculture and food safety as well as investigating the possibility that non-EU approved food products would likely move across the UK/Ireland border and into circulation in the Irish food system and potentially impact the value and integrity of the Irish agri-food industry.

Though a UK/US agreement is hypothetical until Brexit negotiations are completed, it is important to look into the different jurisdictional regulations and relevant toxicology relating to food safety issues including the use of hormones and antibiotics as growth promoters, food safety practices i.e. chlorine washing of chicken, and the global phenomenon of antimicrobial resistance.

As some of the internship was spent in the parliament in Brussels, I was able to attend EU conferences as part of my research, as well as using the European Parliamentary Research Service, and conducting interviews with various stakeholders working in the relevant areas.

Those that shared their expertise with me included members of BEUC (The European Consumer Agency), the EPHA (European Public Health Alliance), Liam MacHale – Director of the Irish Farmers Association, MEPs including Lynn Boylan and Bart Staes, Alan Matthews – Professor Emeritus of European Agricultural Policy, Trinity College Dublin, Michael Hamell – Former Head of Unit, Directorate General for Environment, Current Associate Professor of Agriculture in University College Dublin, Frank Andriesson of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, Dr Gary Kearney and Dr James McIntosh of Safefood, and Dr Pat O’Mahony of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

These interviews, along with literature reviews were used to compile the report I produced for Lynn Boylan for use in the Environment, Public Health & Food Safety Committee, entitled “Implications of a UK/US trade deal on food standards post-Brexit”. I subsequently wrote my MSc thesis on “Inter-jurisdictional regulations on food standards and farming practices between the EU and the US: A post-Brexit scenario”, exploring the regulations surrounding the use of hormonal growth promoters, pathogen reduction treatments and antimicrobial resistance and the effects on human and animal health.

I had a fantastic experience working in the Parliament alongside Lynn Boylan, and this experience proved to be an invaluable one as it played a large part in my success in getting employed shortly after completing my MSc.

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