The European Commission shall partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and establish a new fund to tackle the global challenge of undernutrition in six countries: Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Laos and Niger. EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, confirmed the EU’s commitment in supporting partner countries to reduce the number of children who are chronically undernourished by at least seven million by 2025 and its commitment of €23.5 million for the new initiative: the National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN). The initiative will provide partner countries with the tools to better monitor progress in the reduction of undernutrition, improve information and analysis about nutrition, and enable partner countries to develop well-informed and effective national nutrition policies as a result.
At an informal meeting of EU Agricultural ministers, it was decided that the “zero tolerance” approach to policies should not be included in the new EU regulation, due to be approved by Agriculture Ministers on 16th June. This means that pesticide residues shall be permitted in organic farming within the EU. This does means that the countries who advocate for "zero tolerance" policies may apply them in their national markets, although they will have to accept higher levels in imports from other member states or third countries. The rationale of the "zero tolerance" clause is to avoid crop contamination by products grown in nearby farms, which would automatically result in them being discarded for the organic certificate.
CTA’s Director, Michael Hailu spoke on the panel by the EC, German Development Inistitute BMZ and the International Food Policy research Institute (IFPRI) on ‘Improving food systems for better lives’. Millions of people are living in poverty around the world, but making our food systems more nutritious, resilient, and inclusive can significantly improve their lives within the next ten years. A concluding multi-disciplinary panel discussed ‘Moving from Research to Action’ drawing on wide ranging expertise on ideas, recommendations and priorities for improving food systems with the goal of ending hunger and undernutrition in the coming decade.
The EU executive defended the position promoting the voluntary origin labeling for unprocessed food products, products that comprise a single ingredient and the ingredients that represent more than 50 per cent of a food product. It argues that it seeks to avoid the increase in sales price and in costs for companies and administrations that would involve the mandatory character for the requirement. According to the EC, "the mandatory origin labeling at the level of the European Union (EU) and, even more, at country level, is a very difficult task to implement in many areas of food products and represents a significant increase in cost production, which ultimately would be passed on to consumers." Therefore, it believes that "the voluntary origin labeling would be the alternative that would disrupt the market the least and would keep product costs at current levels."
Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry said Ghana could learn lessons from Italy to increase its non-traditional export. Currently, Italy is Ghana’s second largest export destination: in 2013, Ghana’s total export to Italy amounted to $751 million dominated by petroleum oils, cocoa beans and tuna. The launch of Milan Expo 2015 can intensify bilateral, economic, scientific and cultural partnerships with countries around the globe on the theme: “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” The Expo is designed on a cluster model which represents one of the innovative elements and is organised into six specific food chains-coffee, cacao, spices, fruit and legumes, cereals and tubers.
Alcoholic beverages in the EU could soon be subject to the same regulatory labeling regime as other foodstuffs. Some members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are calling for new regulations and urging the European Commission to legislate the sector. In the quest to safeguard consumer protection an health, MEPs are calling for lists of ingredients – including calories and energy – which could inform current nutrition debates on overweight and obesity issues. According to a recent study, nutrition labeling on alcohols would reduce consumption. This could have implications for future export and import of alcohol products within the EU.
Shenggen Fang, Director General of the International Food PolicyResearch Institute (IFPRI), presented the key findings of the IFPRI Global Food Policy 2014-2015 Report, which showed strong progress based on previous indicators in earlier reports. For instance,the international community is on track for achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) no. 1 - ‘Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty’ – as 700 million people have been moved out of poverty and 209 million people are less hungry today than in the1990s. But new obstacles have emerged following the 2007-2008 global economicand financial crisis, as food prices increased by around 200%.
The European Commission has launched an onlineconsultation on how science and innovation can contribute to the EU ensuring safe,nutritious, sufficient and sustainable food globally. This debate is linked tothe theme of this year's Universal Exhibition in Milan: "Feeding thePlanet, Energy for Life". Its objective is to go beyond culturalactivities and open a real political debate on global food security andsustainability. European Commissioner Navracsics highlighted the vital role that Europehas in tackling the challenges of food and nutrition security andsustainability. Expo 2015 represents a great opportunity to showcase what theEU is already doing in this field and foster international collaboration.
The European Union has allocated 84 million euros to support the agricultural sector in Angola for the next five years. This support aims to help combat malnutrition, which is the fifth leading cause of infant death in the country. Malnutrition in Angola is very troubling. There is recognition of the Angolan authorities of its strong impact on human development and on the country per se. The National Indicative Programme which outlines the strategy and priorities for cooperation between the government of Angola and EU aid, considers food and nutrition security as one of the partnership’s priority areas.
While the European commission and all 28 EU member states are signatories to the international treaty on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, Marie Haga, the executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust questions the commitment to agrobiodiversity. Population growth is expected to exceed nine billion by 2050 and necessarily, such rapid population growth will correlate with an increase in global food demand, currently estimated at 50%. But there are many crucial challenges including climate change, crop pests and diseases, and pressure on agricultural land. As a result of globalisation and industrialisation of agriculture, the planet currently rely on only 150 crops for nearly all its nutrition.