Working together to ensure feed and food safety
Last week in South Africa, at the IV Global Feed and Food Congress, FAO called for a responsible response to the manifold challenges of the sector
FAO called for a responsible response to the manifold challenges of the sector at the IV Global Feed and Food Congress organized by the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) in Sun City, South Africa with the technical support of FAO.
Challenges which are every day more complex and imposed by increasing demand for products of animal origin, increasing human population, decreasing availability of natural resources (mainly land and water), increasing cost of energy, increasing food, fuel and feed competition, increasing risk of exclusion of small scale producers, increasing citizen demands for safe food and increasing concern on the way our food is produced and our animals treated and on-going climate change.
The Congress linked the worlds of feed and food producers. Animal feed is indeed one of the most important component of the production chain of food of animal origin. Feed is economically the single most important element of animal production, accounting for up to 70% of the total production costs. In addition, feed has an impact on animal health, welfare and productivity as well as on food safety and quality, on environmental emissions, on water pollution and on land use.
During the Congress FAO recommended supporting small farmers so that they can both benefit from the opportunities offered by a growing sector and manage the risk associated with the increasing competition and requirements through appropriate policies, reforms, investments, research and training.
“We must take decisive action if we are to meet both the growing demand of products of animal origin and the need to adopt methods which are environmentally friendly, suitable to reduce poverty and presenting minimum risks to human health and welfare.” said Berhe G. Tekola, Director of FAO animal Production and Health Division, who opened the Congress and welcomed the 700 international delegates from over 50 countries representing the feed and food sectors worldwide. “The complex challenges that the livestock sector faces cannot be addressed by a simple series of actions or by individual players, but by the coordinated efforts of all stakeholder involved.” he continued.
Mario Sergio Cutait, IFIF Chairman, reiterated that “Only by working together can we continue to ensure feed and food safety, while meeting the global demands for food for 9 billion people by 2050 and to do so sustainably.”
Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Republic of South Africa, highlighted that “Agriculture remains one of the most reliable drivers of the economy” and added “this Congress affords us the opportunity to review the key legislative, trade and practical aspects of a sector that plays a key role in food safety and security”.
Prior to the Congress, feed regulators, government officials and the feed industry from around the world addressed together critical issues facing the feed sector and gave particular emphasis to those of the African countries in the VI International Feed Regulator Meeting, organized by FAO and IFIF.
Since the late ’90, when the mad cow disease and the dioxin contamination crises started shaking the feed and food sectors, government, industry and intergovernmental organizations have grown into more aware, mature and responsible players in the efforts to secure the safety of animal feed and food; they come to realize that feed and food safety are shared values and as such shared responsibilities. Since then much has been achieved, but nobody can lower the guard, especially when new and unconventional feed ingredients are entering the production chain. Agro-industrial by-products, such as the ones of the biofuel industry, insects, food wastes and other new and unconventional feed ingredients may be used, but they may come with new potential safety risks that need proper attention.
“The feed sector can valuably contribute to make the livestock and food sectors more responsible and sustainable and to achieve other important goals as public health, and animal health and welfare. The meeting was another important opportunity to exchange ideas among stakeholders from around the world and to coordinate our efforts towards these common goals” said Daniela Battaglia, from FAO.
Boundaries and trade are opening up, but to create a fair playing ground for all, capacity development is needed to bring all countries up to the same level.