Matters arising from FAO
Matters arising from WHO
FAO Conference on International Trade Beyond the Year 2000: Science-based Decisions, Harmonization, Equivalence and Mutual Recognition
35. The Representative of FAO reported that the 30th Session of the FAO Conference (1999) had decided to reinforce the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme and to increase FAO's technical cooperation for its member countries to facilitate their active involvement in the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. He stated that FAO was aware of the problems of developing countries in attaining the necessary capacity to participate effectively in Codex work and reported that in response to this need, FAO had initiated a Global Facility on Food and Agricultural Safety and Quality for the world's Least Developed Countries. The Facility aims at strengthening the developing countries' own food regulatory systems, their competitiveness in international food trade and their preparedness to participate in Codex. It should allow them to establish the necessary institutional framework and infrastructure to improve the safety and quality of their food products. It was FAO's intention that the Facility would involve other interested partners from among UN Agencies, WTO and the World Bank. A meeting of interested parties was being planned for November 2001.
36. The Commission noted with interest the decision of FAO to hold a Pan-European Conference on Food Safety and Quality in February 2002 in Budapest in cooperation with WHO. The Conference had been proposed by the FAO Regional Conference for Europe, Porto, 24-28 July 2000.
37. The Commission also noted with interest the decision of FAO and WHO to convene a Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators in Marrakesh, Morocco, in October 2001, in response to the G-8 request for such meetings.
38. The Delegations of Australia and Canada made reference to the FAO Council deliberation which noted the desirability for WHO to meet its relative share of expenses for Codex of 75 percent FAO and 25 percent WHO and asked for clarification on what measures were being taken by WHO to honour its share. Other delegations asked WHO about an increase of its financial participation in view of its increased involvement.
39. The Representative of WHO reported that a Resolution on Food Safety had been adopted by the World Health Assembly in May 2001. The Resolution had prioritized food safety as an essential public health function. It was noted that the Global WHO Food Safety Strategy formulated in accordance with the Resolution incorporated a "leap-forward" approach that encouraged developing countries to apply preventative, risk-based approaches throughout the entire food chain in a holistic manner. The holistic approach taken in the Global WHO Food Safety Strategy was welcomed and WHO was encouraged to continue to push forward the thrust of its activities to support developing countries in food safety. It was noted that WHO was making substantial contributions in support of the Codex work through providing expertise and extrabudgetary funding for the risk assessments in microbiological risk assessment and biotechnology.
40. The Commission thanked FAO and WHO for their various activities in support of food quality and safety and welcomed the direction to apply preventative approaches.
41. The Representative of WHO, in response to a question posed by Côte d'Ivoire on the relative share of contributions, indicated that the contributions by WHO had been increased to strengthen its Regional arrangements in food safety and its commitments to the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultations in the areas of microbiological risk assessments and foods derived from biotechnology. He noted the need to obtain more data on food-borne disease from developing countries and industrialized countries. It was noted that the development of a trust fund was in process to support the participation of developing countries in the work of the Codex.
42. It was noted that the Melbourne Conference had directed to the Codex Alimentarius Commission certain recommendations. Other recommendations had been directed to FAO and WHO or else to Member governments. The Commission specifically endorsed the following recommendations of the Melbourne Conference and requested the Executive Committee to monitor their applications and their incorporation in the Medium-Term Plan as appropriate:
43. Several delegations expressed their reservation on para 19 of the document which stated that "the Executive Committee had recognized the need to develop guidelines for determining equivalence of food control systems, covering not only safety but also quality and conformity". They expressed the opinion that only "essential quality factors" should be addressed and not "quality", as Codex should refrain from applying overly prescriptive approaches.
44. The Commission noted the importance to "make the largest possible use of information from developing countries in risk assessment for international standard-setting" as stated in the World Health Assembly Resolution and the recommendations of the Melbourne Conference.
45. The Delegation of Mexico expressed its reservation concerning Recommendation 20 of the Conference (holding of Codex Committee meetings in developing countries) since, when such meetings were held in different regions of the world, they offered the opportunity for increased participation of these regions and affected the participation of developing countries from other regions. The Delegation of Mexico referring to Recommendation 21 emphasized the importance of written comments and stated that there were examples where such written comments had not been properly considered by Codex Committees.