[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and
Agriculture see Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]
Sent: 30 June 2004 11:50
Subject: 38: IUFoST/FAO database of food science and technology research projects
This is from Prof J Ralph Blanchfield, United Kingdom.
I have sent individual messages about the "Joint IUFoST/FAO database of food science and technology research projects relevant to the food needs of developing countries", to those contributors to this conference whose contributions indicated that they might have appropriate projects to put into the database. I have not previously posted the message to the conference itself as I did not know whether it was appropriate to do so. [As the research projects may include applications of biotechnology, it does seem appropriate...Moderator].
You may not yet be aware of the publicly searchable database recently created jointly by FAO and The International Union of Food Science & Technology (IUFoST) for research projects in food science and technology applicable to improving food quality and availability in developing countries. The purpose of this message is to invite you and your colleagues to contribute to that database information about your relevant current research projects.
FAO is of course the main international agency concerned with addressing the serious problems of food insecurity in the world. IUFoST is the "United Nations"-type international body in which member countries are represented by their national food science and technology bodies (termed "Adhering Bodies"). This exciting collaboration between the two main international bodies concerned, FAO and IUFoST, deserves the support of all food scientists and technologists worldwide and is consistent with the "food security for all" objectives expressed in the Budapest Declaration, adopted unanimously by IUFoST delegates in 1995. The background to the need for this database, and how it will be beneficially used may be seen below. However, these benefits can only begin to be realised when the database becomes well-populated with projects.
It will not take long to contribute research project details to the database. Please go to http://www.fao.org/inpho/ find and click on the IUFoST link on the left-hand side of the screen, log in as "Guest" (coded password already provided), click on "Contribution" and proceed from there. You will find that the project name and brief details need to be entered in English, French and Spanish. If this presents a difficulty, to obtain a version to use in any of the three required languages, copy-and-paste one language version into the translation box in http://world.altavista.com/ and then copy-and-paste the translation into the appropriate blank field.
Prof J Ralph Blanchfield, MBE
Food Science, Food Technology and Food Law Consultant
President Elect, International Academy of Food Science and Technology
Member of IUFoST Governing Council
Chair, IUFoST/FAO Database Task Force
Personal Web address
jralphb (at) easynet.co.uk
IUFoST has launched a major project on adequate food availability for the hungry world. It consists of a joint IUFoST/FAO database of food science and technology research projects in or for developing and "transitional" countries. All IUFoST Adhering Bodies are receiving details and are asked to help as indicated below.Background
- 840 million people were undernourished in 1998-2000 (FAO Report, 2002). The
fact that large numbers of our fellow human beings go hungry, especially in
developing countries, is of concern to all, and particularly to food
scientists and technologists.
- Although food science societies and their members are actuated by humanitarian motives, the societies themselves should resist the natural temptation to be too ambitious, and should restrict their contribution to what they can do, and uniquely do, within their scope and expertise.
- IUFoST has three Task Forces that should have longer-term benefits to food security (on distance education in sub-Saharan Africa, on rural agro-industries, and on minimising post-harvest losses).
- What shorter-term practical steps can be taken by IUFoST and by its adhering food science societies to contribute effectively and on an ongoing basis to the alleviation of a global problem that requires a complex of immediate (i.e. food aid), short-term and longer-term measures, and involving very much more than the role of science?
- Some food scientists and technologists in developing countries are working on projects within their own countries. Also some in many developed countries, are working on projects for/within developing countries, either directly or supporting their former students who have returned there.
- Many such projects can be of direct value in helping to improve the supply of food and clean water in the relatively short-term. However, such projects exist in a piecemeal and uncoordinated way, and need to be collated and coordinated to deliver the benefits indicated below.
- Such coordination needs to be done on a world scale by IUFoST, but only the individual adhering food science societies have the direct access and means to solicit their own members to input information about what relevant projects they are doing, into the now-established IUFoST/FAO database.
A joint IUFoST/FAO database has been constructed as a module of the FAO on-line mega-database, Information Network on Post Harvest Operations (INPhO). Inputs to the database, which will be publicly accessible and searchable, involve the following fields:
- Reference number (automatically generated)
- Name of project
- Brief description
- Pre-defined key words (one or more chosen from each of a commodities menu, a technologies menu, an operations menu and a spoilage prevention menu)
- Project leader
- Full contact details
- Institution where project is being carried out
- For which country or countries
- Source of funding
- Start date
- Expected finish date
- Intended outcome
To deal with the obvious problem of anybody being able to input anything into a publicly accessible database, there is provision that the input information goes to a non-visible part of the database website, accessible by password, by someone who accepts or rejects - acceptance transfers the data to the visible, publicly accessible database. In the case of the food science and technology project, the purpose is not to carry out an evaluation of the merits of each project -- that would require an army of experts and is anyway not the purpose of the exercise -- but to provide an elementary quality control "filter" to ensure that the project is a bona fide project and that adequate information for all the fields has been provided. Since the nature of this "editorial" function has no country specificity, it is being done by the Database Task Force, a small team of volunteers on behalf of IUFoST.
For the IUFoST adhering bodies, their role, using/adapting a model "invitation to contribute" drafted by IUFoST, is the indispensable one of soliciting their members and relevant institutions in their countries - see below) who are engaged in relevant projects, to make direct inputs to the expanded INPhO database.Benefits
1. For the first time, there will be organized worldwide knowledge of what
scientists and technologists have been or are doing in relation to this
crucially-important subject, and whereabouts in/for which developing
2. The IUFoST Task Force has been assembled to monitor inputs and
* to see where the gaps are and draw attention to them;
* to put individuals, who are unknowingly working on similar projects in different developing countries, in touch with each other;
* possibly to "broker" the application of projects that have been/are being successful, to other developing countries where they could also be relevant.