14 February 2003 Rome/Geneva -- A
$40 million Trust Fund to help the world's least developed
countries participate in Codex Alimentarius, was launched in
Geneva today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
and the World Health Organization (WHO).
Codex Alimentarius sets food standards that protect
the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in food trade.
The Project and Fund for Enhanced
Participation in Codex is expected to run for 12 years
and has already received its first contribution from
The Codex Alimentarius
Commission (CAC) was established in 1963 by FAO and WHO and has
168 member countries today. Because the CAC establishes
international food safety and trade standards, it is equally
important to developed and developing countries.
However, many developing countries, particularly the
least developed ones, have not fully participated in the work of
the CAC because of the cost involved in attending meetings and
The new Trust Fund will
help some 120 developing countries and countries in transition
increase their participation in the vital work of the
The fund will also help
regulators and food experts from all areas of the world
participate in setting international standards and enhance their
capacity to develop effective food safety and quality standards,
both within the framework of the Codex Alimentarius and national
food safety systems in their own countries.
Speaking at the Geneva launch today, during at
extraordinary session of the CAC, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland,
Director-General of WHO said, "We believe that through
their increased participation in Codex, all 168 Codex members
will be better able to create and govern their domestic food
standards and food safety systems. This will enable all Codex
Members both to improve the quality and safety of food at home
and to be more effective when trading their food
Diouf, Director-General of FAO, said "Developing
countries say they often find it difficult to take part in Codex
and have their voice heard. Due to limited resources,
governments in developing countries cannot always give Codex
activities the high priority they deserve. This must change. All
countries, especially the developing countries, need to be fully
involved in the international debate and in drawing up policy
guidance on food safety and trade."
Mr Tom Billy, Chairman of the Codex Alimentarius
Commission, said: "On behalf of the Commission, this
new initiative is very welcome as it fits into the overall
strategic framework of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and
will contribute to the ability of member countries to
participate in moving Codex rapidly forward in response to the
needs of today's world."
safety standards have become increasingly important in recent
years, as countries faced a number of food safety crises, such
as mad cow disease, dioxin contamination of animal feed and
listeria contamination of milk products and ready-to-eat foods.
According to FAO and WHO, appropriate food
standards, when properly implemented, serve to safeguard the
health of consumers. When such standards are lacking, or when
existing standards are not consistently applied, the result can
be an increased spread of serious food-borne diseases.
Harmonized food standards also contribute
to a rule-based trading system that is predictable and
non-discriminatory, which supports the agriculture sector and
promotes development in general.
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 53259
Mr Gregory Hartl
Communications Adviser for Sustainable Development and
(+41 22) 791