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.
Scientists for the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) aredeveloping a super breadfruit (Mae) that will be more productive and climateresistant. The joint research by the SPC’s Centre for Pacific Crops and Trees(CePaCT) aims to improve food security in the Pacific Islands. According to theSPC “Pacific Island governments want varieties of breadfruit that fruit allyear round so that there is a continuous supply, which is vitally important forfood security and also for commercial farmers and businesses based onbreadfruit products”.
Twenty days after the signing of the new law on growing genetically modified (GM) crops in the European Union by the European Parliament, (11 March) and it’s publication in the Official Journal of the EU, the new law shall enter into force. The first crop likely to get European Commission endorsement is to be an insect-resistant maize known as 1507, whose developers DuPont and Dow Chemical have been lobbying 14 years for the EU to authorise cultivation. It is widely-grown in the Americas and Asia. It still remains a very divisive issue in the EU: Britain is in favour, while France is opposed.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) report has found that more than 97% of foods contain pesticide levels that fall within legal limits: 55% of the samples evaluated by EFSA were free of detectable traces, while strawberries and lettuce are the most likely to exceed safe limits. The European Crop Protection Association (ECPA), a trade group representing the pesticides industry, hailed the EFSA report, saying it "confirms once again that Europe’s food supply is among the safest in the world." ECPA added that traces of pesticides exceeding the maximum residue levels (MRLs) were found more often in imported food (5.7%) than in samples originating from the EU and the European Economic Area (1.4%).
Cassavas is currently one of the world's fastest-growing crops, and is holding up better to the rising temperatures caused by climate change, as pointed out by experts. Since the 80s, the global production of cassava has increased by 52% due, among other reasons, to the doubling of its production in Africa. It adapts better to higher temperatures compared to other crops, such as beans or corn, as it is less sensitive to climate changes.
The Brazilian government has received confirmation from the South African health authorities that it is to reopen the market for exports of boneless beef. This announcement comes after the South African government banned the import of these products in 2005, following the outbreak of the foot and mouth disease, and the atypical case of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Brazil.