APEC, World Bank ink MOU on food safety

Published by rudy Date posted on May 20, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the World Bank yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen collaboration on food safety in the Asia-Pacific region, which accounts for over 40 percent of the world’s population and nearly half of global food production.

The APEC Sub-Committee on Standards and Conformance’s Food Safety Cooperation Forum and the World Bank will work together closely on training programs to improve food safety standards and practices in the region, as well as to facilitate trade.

The programs will enable more growers, producers and food safety officials to understand and utilize preventative controls – resulting in safer food for consumers and fewer safety incidents in food trade.

“Food trade is increasingly becoming a global issue with complex and inter-related supply chains, which raises the need to address the question of food safety,” according to APEC secretariat executive director, Ambassador Muhamad Noor.

Noor said global and regional cooperation on building the capacity of regulatory systems is key to reducing food incidents and boosting trust in trade. Doing so enhances domestic commerce and export markets, he added.

“More widespread movement of food and livestock around the world requires vigilance on food safety and disease risk,” Inger Andersen, World Bank vice president for Sustainable Development, agreed.

Andersen pointed out that “more exacting standards pose challenges to poor farmers competing in these growing markets.”

Andersen continued, “food safety is an increasingly significant part of the World Bank’s lending and technical assistance programs in East Asia and the Pacific, as well as in other regions. We are extremely pleased to be working with APEC to bring more attention to this critical issue. This new agreement will strengthen our joint efforts to mobilize resources and promote and support capacity building to better ensure food safety concerns.”

Andersen and the co-chairs of the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum, Steve McCutcheon from Australia and Lin Wei from China, signed the MOU a series of APEC meetings currently underway in Big Sky, Montana.

“The MOU opens the way for an upscaling of food safety capacity building in the region,” said McCutcheon and Lin in a joint statement.

APEC Trade Ministers and Small and Medium Enterprise Ministers are meeting May 19-21 in Big Sky, focusing on APEC’s 2011 agenda to further advance free and open trade in the region.

The APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum was established to bring together food safety regulators to develop a food safety framework and strategy and to carry out capacity building programs in this important area.

The memorandum of understanding is part of APEC’s agenda to strengthen food security in the diverse region, home to about one quarter of the world’s undernourished people.

The region also accounts for half of world grain production and includes major exporters and importers of agricultural products.

APEC held its first APEC Ministerial Meeting on Food Security last October in Niigata, Japan, and committed to focus on raising agricultural productivity, facilitating trade and investment and expanding markets. –Marianne V. Go (The Philippine Star)

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