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Ministers commit to strengthening the role of standard setting organizations


The 12th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference, took place on Saturday 18 January 2020. The conference discussed how trade in food and agricultural commodities and trade in services for agriculture can contribute to achieving food security for the world's increasing population, enhancing nutrition and human health, improving farmers' livelihoods and income, and achieving more sustainable food systems to preserve the planet. The final communique from the conference called for trade policies to be part of a larger strategy (towards the improved sustainability of agriculture and food systems) that includes a range of other domestic policies and investments.

Making food value chains inclusive, sustainable and safe.

With small-scale agriculture still the main source of food in many countries, smallholders, family farmers and women farmers, in particular, continue to face severe difficulties in accessing markets and the communique stresses the need to make food value chains inclusive, sustainable and safe for all.

Specifically, on food safety, ministers acknowledged that international food-safety as well as plant and animal health standards, based on the SPS Agreement, are essential for reaping the benefits of agricultural trade and for avoiding potential risks to human, animal and plant health. They resolved to facilitate trade in agriculture and in safe and nutritious food products applying the international standards set by Codex under the World Trade Organization agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. 

The communique calls on ministers to promote and strengthen the role that all three standard-setting organizations play within the sanitary and phytosanitary field of international trade.

GFFA2020 Ministers

Representatives from 71 countries attended the 12th Berlin Agriculture Ministers' Conference (photo GFFA/

Codex Secretary, Tom Heilandt, speaking to German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, welcomed the commitments of the forum to promote and strengthen the roles of Codex, The Organization for Animal Health and The International Plant Protection Convention as part of a rules-based trading system. 

In his message to the closing plenary, Heilandt emphasized the role of the Codex Alimentarius as an expression of SDG17 as it is a partnership in itself bringing together Food, Agriculture and Health - FAO and WHO. “We are at the service of our members to create science-based standards preventing hazards without preventing trade. Protecting consumers health and enabling trade”, he said. He encouraged ministers and all those present to increase awareness of the importance of food safety though activities surrounding the World food safety day 7.6.2020.


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Read the GFFA 2020 Communique in full

Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture website