Dr. B. M. Ojala
Economic and Social Department
The broad aims of FAO are stated in the preamble to its Constitution, and the first of these is "to raise levels of nutrition". Since the interests and pursuits of this group are directly related to the objectives of the organisation, it is a special privilege for me to be with you this morning.
I would like to express appreciation to our advisers such as your group, whose advice and recommendations have been of substantial assistance to the work of FAO and WHO, and a source of confidence to nutrition workers all over the world. I see several members of this group who have served in previous FAO/WHO Expert Committees. To those who are joining this group for the first time, I would like to express my heartiest welcome. I am certain that their contribution will be stimulating and would enhance the effectiveness of the work of this group.
The question of nutritional requirements is of great concern to FAO and WHO, for as you know, these organisations advise and assist governments on such matters as food production, processing and distribution, dietary requirements and the assessment of nutritional status, in order to improve the health of the people through better nutrition. The past recommendations have been valuable, but the work of your group will be of even greater importance at the present time. Such recent developments as the race between population and food supplies, urbanization and the continuing maldistribution of income in many other countries and many other factors, present an increasing burden to disesse and malnutrition, and serious problems of food and nutrition are bound to persist and intensify. The need for energy and protein requirements to be defined as accurately as possible on the basis of existing scientific knowledge is even more pressing today than the early days of FAO and WHO.
I am confident that with the studies, experience and background in the field of energy and protein requirements of members of this expert group, that it will now be possible to define requirements with greater precision and accuracy than heretofore. I would just like to stress a practical aspect, in that, due to the continuing problems of nutrition, many countries are now adopting nutritional requirements as part of a development plan. Recommendations must, in order to be effective, exert an influence upon the pattern of food production and will therefore involve an economic cost to the country or community in terms of diversion of resources and changing labour patterns. Thus, the scientific basis for the recommended levels must be adequate to justify the benefits in terms of improved health and production in relation to the cost involved.
I realize the difficult tasks ahead of you, and I can only reiterate our deep appreciation for the valuable assistance, past and present, which you have so kindly extended to FAO and WHO in the important field of nutritional requirements.
Welcome to Rome to you all, and I wish you success in your deliberations during the next two weeks on a matter of practical importance to the member countries of FAO and WHO.