Foreword by the Commissioner
Even though these are not times of food scarcity for Europe, people are still affected by food-related anxieties. When the European Commission started to develop the ideas behind the Sixth Research Framework Programme, the role of microbes, vitamins and carbohydrates were already familiar, a new era of discourse on food began.
At that time, citizens started to concern themselves with questions of pesticide in fruits, nutritional content, bovine growth hormones in milk, mad cow disease, allergies and obesity. There was only one way to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the inedible and to support the new emerging rights of the "informed choice"; we needed to invest in food safety and quality research across the board, from fork to farm.
Food industry is Europe's largest manufacturing sector. Surprisingly, it remains nonresearch intensive. Less vulnerable than others to economic fluctuations, it is instead affected by consumer habits and perceptions more than anything else. If we want to remain competitive and rise to the challenge in providing our citizens with the high-quality safe food they request, we have to discover and unveil the potential of new technologies and transfer the knowledge to large companies as well as to the many SMEs that represent the economic backbone of Europe.
By responding to pressing requests from consumers, market and Member States, the forward-looking thematic priority Food Quality and Safety in the Sixth Framework Programme has been a great success. It effectively supported research to develop an environmentally friendly production and distribution chain able to deliver safer, healthier and more varied food to people.
I hope you will look forward to the new Seventh Research Framework Programme with equal enthusiasm.
for Science and Research