It is difficult to imagine a world without the Codex Alimentarius. It has been said that if Codex did not exist, somebody would have to invent it. Consumer demand, recognition by WTO, the growing attendance at Codex meetings and the greater involvement of developing countries all point to a long and active life for the Commission.
However, Codex activities of the future will differ considerably from what they have been until now. Scientific developments in fields relating to food, changing attitudes of consumers, new approaches to food control, changing perceptions of government and food industry responsibilities and changing food quality and safety concepts will present the Commission with new challenges and, conceivably, the need for new standards.
The consumer protection elements of the Codex Alimentarius, which are domain of the "horizontal" committees, are currently gaining in importance, while the compositional or "recipe" elements of individual commodity standards do not appear to attract as much interest as before. At present, interest in the quality aspects of Codex standards remains, although the importance attributed to such issues in the future will depend on community attitudes and demands.
The application of biotechnology to food processing and production of raw food materials is already under scrutiny by the Commission, which is continually examining new concepts and systems associated with food safety and the protection of consumers against health hazards. These topical matters provide some insight into the direction that the Commission's activities are likely to take in the future.
Whatever happens, it would be fair to claim that the Codex Alimentarius' contribution to the betterment of humankind is one of the finer and more extraordinary achievements of the twentieth century.
The Codex Alimentarius pages on the World Wide Web make it is easy to follow the activities of the Codex Commission and its subsidiary bodies.
Information available on the Web site now includes: