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FAO COVID-19 response affirms importance of food safety standards for trade


A webinar held on 14 July 2020 entitled ‘Joint Action on COVID-19: Boosting our Global Response’, presented the seven main intervention areas that FAO has developed in response to the COVID-19 crisis with a clear message that business as usual is not a possibility.

If we carry on as usual we will see major loss of life.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told participants that with 4.5 billion people dependent on food systems for their jobs and livelihoods it was time for FAO to scale up and operate in a more holistic way if large numbers were not to see their jobs wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We must limit damage to food security and nutrition caused by COVID-19 and at the same time we must transform our food systems to make them more resilient, sustainable and equitable”, he said.

The pandemic is driving us to think differently.

The Director-General said FAO can make a difference through four key functions: policy consultation, information dissemination, normative work and capacity building. “We can continue to do more holistically, comprehensively with all the key players, not only governments but private sector, academia, civil society and … sister international organizations”, he said.

Introducing FAO’s comprehensive response plan to COVID-19, Deputy Director-General Beth Bechdol said: “Urgent measures are needed to address this crisis and it is imperative we think not just about the immediate term but about the future”. The estimated cost of implementing the plan over the next two years is 1.2 billion US dollars. “To ensure we do not fuel or replicate the pandemic we must all turn our attention to adapting food and agricultural systems to be even more resilient”, she said.

The importance of food safety standards.

FAO Chief Economist Máximo Torero Cullen described the seven main intervention areas that will see countries, regions and headquarters working together as one unit together with partners. “The crisis has shown how important food safety standards attached to trade are. We need to find ways we can accelerate this process”, he said, emphasizing the importance of international collaboration.


Learn more

Watch the full webinar on the FAO website.

Photo credit

©FAO/Max Valencia / FAO