CFS45 THE U.N. CONFERENCE FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY OCTOBER 2018

I attended CFS45 Global Food Security conference at the FAO headquarters in Rome this October as part of the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) delegation. It was an opportunity organised by Nuffield Farming International who arranged for Nuffield Farming Scholars from different disciplines across the world to attend this event.

It was 5 days out of my working week very well spent.

Being busy, working hard in your sector in your own country is not the only way to achieve progress. It also is a good idea to step away from the day to day, look at the global food security issues, the impact they have on your country and speak with the people and the policy makers who can effect change.

I met a commercial fisher from Canada, Tiare who told me that “the future is in the hands of those who show up”.

The week of talks on Global Food Security showed me how true this is. Policy makers, non-governmental organisations, private sector, academics and many more groups are present and continue an on-going relationship throughout the year.

From the opening of the conference, attending the World Food Day and a high level dinner to presenting at a side event hosted by PSM, it was a formative experience.

The key take home messages about global food security and nutrition summarised by the PSM are:

State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) Report:

  • World hunger is estimated to have risen further to reach 821 million in 2017 – roughly 1 in 9 people around the world – an increase from the 2016 figure of 815 million people.
  • PSM recognises that the world’s farmers are on the front lines of climate change, rural development, and also, disturbingly, are disproportionately affected by poverty and hunger.
  • Farming on all scales, in all regions, contributes to food security and nutrition.

Nutrition

  • The development of the Voluntary Guidelines on Food System and Nutrition should be supported by scientific evidence on Food Security and Nutrition.
  • Over- and under-nutrition co-exist in virtually every country in the world. Nutrition policies must address the dual burden of malnutrition.
  • PSM supports in particular the importance of capacity building and data collection in developing the Voluntary guidelines.

Youth

  • PSM believes that youth in agriculture is a key issue that needs to be included in the CFS workstreams

For me, it was clear to see that the benefit of using multi stakeholder partnerships is that the agreed changes are sustainable and effective in the long term. Throughout the research for my Nuffield Farming Scholarship I have seen that where collaboration is present in the food system, the outcome is beneficial for all parties.

I recommend that for anyone wanting to facilitate change in the food system, the CFS45 is a good place to start

ASSET 2018 Global summit on food integrity, Belfast

In May 2018, I attended the Global Summit on global food integrity and spoke in the improving diet panel.

We will not have good security without food and nutrition security”

Dr John Bell opened the summit emphasising the interconnectedness of our food system, it needs to able to provide nutritious, safe food for a growing population and be sustainably produced.

The scene was now set and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to fixing our broken food system had been declared and the following themes discussed.

Deliberate contamination of food
The threat from pathogens to the food system
Human exposure to chemical cocktails in food
Delivering the nutritional needs for the 21st Century Global population

Predictable Surprises
Dr Amy Kircher from the Food Protection and Defence Institute opened the session on the deliberate contamination of foods by stating that predictable surprises are disrupting our food system. We eat from a global plate which makes the food chain a complex system with vulnerable points for terrorism, sabotage and economically motivated adulteration to take place. Opportunities for crime is usually predictable, for example, a regional crop shortage or a disgruntled employee. Internationally recognised definitions of these crimes are needed if agencies from different countries are to be able to collaborate on investigations. The key take home message was that data monitoring and analysis is essential to look at trends and see where predictable surprises may take place.

The theme of a common technical language was carried over from food fraud into the threat from pathogens to the food system. Lack of ownership was identified as a problem along with the need to have an international system to manage the responses.
The subject would be incomplete without a mention of blockchain and indeed the claims about blockchain’s ability to deliver traceability were said to be inflated. The rapporteurs conclusions from the plenary sessions were that there has to be shared equity in the problem and that is important to develop robust monitoring systems so that information can be quickly disseminated

From Farm to Flush
The link between the production of animals for food and the human health of those who consume it was important for this theme, hence From Farm to Flush.
The rapporteurs concluded that the routine use of antibiotics outside the EU to grow healthy animals faster needs to stop. Human misuse of these drugs is also an issue and by 2050 anti-biotics deaths will have reached 10 million globally, costing £66 trillion.
Developing countries carry the biggest burden of the consequences of anti-microbial resistance and a One Health system needs to be part of the solution where a global monitoring system for food borne illness and anti-microbial resistance is set up.

 

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Genes are like a hand of cards in poker…….
The big challenges of Type 2 diabetes, challenging food environment, micronutrient sub-optimal intake in the UK and many parts of the world, malnutrition, food insecurity and an ageing population were all covered by the theme delivering the nutritional needs of the 21st century.

How do you solve a problem like nourishment?

I visited the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells last month and took the opportunity to catch up with fellow Nuffield Scholars and talk about my study topic ‘vegetable production for specific nutritional need’.

The food hall was buzzing with activity and it was interesting to see the growth in plant based food products, which leads me to my latest video.

Here I talk about what led me to my current career path and the problem that we have of low nourishment due to our food system. How can it be solved though?

I would like your help to identify vegetable products which have successfully been sold as ‘nutritious foods’ for example beetroot juice as a recovery drink for athletes, and vegetable products with specific high nutrient levels for example; mushrooms with enhanced vitamin D levels or spinach enriched with selenium.

 

 

 

Commitment, communication and co-operation

I attended the Rothamsted Open Innovation Forum (ROIF 2017) last week and I was intrigued to hear Matthew Ryan from CABI explain to the audience that commitment, communication and co-operation are 3 key things he needed to bring the right people together to work on the plant microbiome project. He then invited us to join a discussion group on how to make the project happen.

The plant microbiome is the environment around the plant containing fungi, bacteria and yeasts that help to provide nutrients, fight disease and pests and support the plant’s growth.

plant

His challenge is that the study of the plant microbiome is a multi-disciplinary task involving plant pathologists, microbiologists, crop scientists, data analysts and many others. In fact, to map the microbiome of plants is even a bigger task than mapping the human genome because of the different species and environments involved. In addition, the environments in which plants live, are constantly changing so it is a task similar to the one faced by the Forth Road bridge painters, before a sustainable solution was found!

So why would I, a technical and nutrition consultant working in the food industry, want to take part in this discussion?

Three words – commitment, communication and co-operation. In any discipline, these three elements make challenges possible to overcome.

One of the key questions in my Nuffield project is “how do nutritionists, farmers and food manufacturers work together to bring improvements to human nutrition?”

So far, I have come across products that deliver nutritional benefits such as vitamin D enriched mushrooms, selenium enriched tomatoes, Omega 3 enriched eggs, high beta-carotene sweet potatoes and A2 milk. Projects do exist that bring the different specialists together but is this a subject area too important to be left to private and commercial initiatives?

In the UK, food and nutrition policy is handled by the Food Standards Agency and Defra. The Department of Health also has a role in food policy and has the Public Health England (PHE) agency focusing on nutrition. PHE is committed to advising and supporting on key areas for example, sugar reduction and producing the Eatwell Guide. SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition), advises PHE and other government institutions on nutrition and related health matters.

The multi-agency approach is well established but could we be doing better to commit to working across the various disciplines, communicating nutritional health priorities and co-operating on projects to improve the nutritional value of food in the U.K?