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Balancing Food Safety and Food Security – FAO Perspective

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  1. Balancing Food Safety and Food Security – FAO Perspective Ezzeddine Boutrif Director, Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division

  2. Food security – an evolving concept • In the 50s and 60s: Food security = self sufficiency in major staples • After World Food Conference of 1974: Food Security = Access to sufficient food • World Food Summit of 1996: “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access tosufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.

  3. Global food supply increased substantially since World War II • For most of the past 50 years food production has outpaced rising demand. • World population has doubled since World War II, but food production has tripled. • In the developing world the calories available per person increased from an average of 1,925 calories in 1961 to 2,540 in 1992. • World food production has expanded since the early 1960s due mainly to the Green Revolution—adoption of crop rotation, the mass production and use of petroleum-based fertilizers and chemical pesticides, expanded irrigation, and the introduction of genetically superior, disease-resistant cultivars

  4. Hunger in the Midst of Plenty! • The world produces sufficient food to feed all its people, but many millions in developing countries are undernourished. • Each year about 18 million people, mostly children, die from starvation, malnutrition, and related causes. • Two billion people suffer from some form of malnutrition or dietary deficiencies. • In sub-Saharan Africa as many as 70% of all women are anaemic (Iron deficiency). • About 200 million children under age five—40% of all children of this age in the developing world — lack sufficient nutrition to lead fully active lives.

  5. Global Food security – High on the international agenda • March 2008: establishment of the UN High Level Task Force on Food Crisis • June 2008: FAO High Level Conference on Food Security – The challenge of climate change and bioenergy • The G-8 Summit in Japan in October 2008 addressed the impact of soaring food prices on world food security • The Madrid High Level Meeting on Food Security for all, January 2009 which established the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

  6. Food Insecurity in the World - gloomy prospects World hunger is increasing. The WFS goal of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015 threatens to be out of reach. FAO’s most recent estimates put the number of hungry people at 923 million in 2007 versus 842 million in 1990-92, the baseline period for the World Food Summit (WFS) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

  7. Number of undernourished people in the developing world (WFS target)

  8. Proportion of undernourished people in the developing world (MDG target)

  9. Trends in global undernourishment, 2003-05 compared with 1990-92

  10. Soaring Food Prices Crisis • Between Jan. 2005 and Feb. 2008 prices of major food commodities increased by: • Corn: 130% • Wheat: 177% • Rice: 62% • Soybean oil: 175% • Coconut oil: 137% The highest price increases in 30 years!.

  11. Impact of high food prices on numbers of undernourished by region: 2003-05 to 2007

  12. Free trade – an opportunity or a cause for concern? • Major promoters of free trade tend to make exceptions in their favour: • More than USD 300 billion as subsidies • No possibility for small developing countries to compete • Food Sovereignty – several countries (India, Pakistan, Argentina, Russia and China) decided to ban export of certain commodities to protect their populations.

  13. Biofuels – A ˝green Energy˝ or a cause of a crisis? • In 2007 some 80 million tons of grain in biofuels – 25% of US corn production • In 2008 expected to reach 100 million tons i.e. amount equivalent to the consumption needs per year of 400 million people.! • Production of biofuels from grains is not necessarily environment friendly! • Second generation of biofuels may be more attractive.

  14. Climate change – the big challenge • Negative effects include: droughts, desertification, more frequent and serious storms, intense rainfalls and floods. • Agriculture and climate change are tied together in a “feedback loop”: they affect each other. • Modern agriculture is an important contributor to climate change.

  15. Food safety contributes to food security • Ensuring safe food has positive implications for food security: • Access to safe food is in itself an element of food security. • Food-borne illnesses may have serious social and economic consequences • Application of GAP, GMP and GHP improves food safety and reduces food losses  increases food availability and food security.

  16. Food safety standards – can affect negatively food security • Food safety regulations imply costs of compliance which may be prohibitive for some producers – e.g. private standards • Stringent food safety standards may raise food prices with negative consequences for poor consumers. • Food safety and other sanitary and phytosanitary measures can have a major impact on trade in agricultural and food products.

  17. Food safety in times of food shortage • When food is in shortage, can policy makers accept lower food safety standards to protect food security? • Need to take into account the risk of starvation/undernutrition in the risk analysis process.

  18. Conclusions • Food insecurity is still a major concern in the 21st century – Need for a global commitment to mobilise the necessary resources to address the problem decisively. • Food safety contributes to food security and enhances nutritional benefit; • In times of food shortage, it is important to include in the risk analysis process the risks of food insecurity.