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2. The Session was opened by Mr Shingo Haketa, Vice-Minister for Health and Welfare, who welcomed the participants to Makuhari, Chiba, Japan. Mr Haketa stressed the expectation of the global community that this Task Force would reach an agreement toward the modality of safety assessment of food derived from biotechnology within its prescribed period of 4 years. Dr Hartwig de Haen, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Department of FAO and Dr Jørgen Schlundt, Cordinator Programme of Food Safety, WHO, gave welcome addresses on behalf of FAO and WHO, respectively. Both representatives expressed their sincere gratitude toward the Government of Japan for its hospitality and wished a successful meeting. They stressed the potential benefit of biotechnology if utilised in an appropriate manner and at the same time the concern of consumers about the safety of foods derived from biotechnology. It was also stressed that FAO and WHO, as parent organizations of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, would provide continuous support to the work of the Task Force.

3. Mr Thomas Billy, Chairman of the Codex Alimentarius Commission recalled that the Codex Alimentarius Commission had first raised the issue of safety evaluation of foods derived from biotechnology over decade ago and stressed the importance of a progressive and science-based exchange of views to reach a consensus in this controversial problem area.

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