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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The safety of what is served up to us on our dinner plate is no longer something we can take for granted. In the past the belief was that with a little care, good food would provide safe, healthy and high-quality nutrition. Not much thought was given to how food was grown and processed. Consideration for how plants, animals, soil and water were treated by conventional farming systems was not on our minds.

Extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers and significant energy inputs to maximize production brought with them considerable waste release and a variety of related environmental problems. Over the last few decades, consumers' awareness of food production systems that are more environmentally sustainable and compatible with the demands of the earth's ecosystem has increased.

Knowing that we are what we eat has made us more sensitive to our natural environment, both in terms of what we put in and what we take out. To make this system more palatable, 26 organisations from 16 different countries united their efforts, in the context of the AQUAGRIS Coordination Action, in order to reform environmental management for improved sustainability in the farming, fisheries and aquaculture (FFA) industries. Leading specialists from different countries with expertise in environmental management are reviewing the latest international scientific literature, to elucidate the optimum standards in sustainable farming and highlight future research priorities.

The AQUAGRIS network aims to increase understanding and awareness of the problem areas facing today's FFA industries, and develop solutions that have minimal impact on biodiversity and the environment.

Frequent seminars and workshops, an ongoing discussion between leading experts in the field resulting in subsequent cross-fertilisation of ideas are on the menu. These get-togethers encourage the formation of a coherent strategy for future research, avoiding duplication of effort and fragmentation of resources. In addition, all stakeholders are able to meet and exchange ideas at the custom-made website.

In order to be able to incorporate existing or new technological advances into current management systems, standards, policies and regulation on environmental management in FFA, industries must obviously be harmonised. The first step to producing compatible, sustainable, unified systems involves the mapping of the current situation, concerning the status of national and international standards, codes of practice, policies and regulation.

In this way, the main barriers that prevent the development, implementation and use of measures to decrease the impact of the FFA industries can be identified. This effort will yield new standards and codes of practice, removing bottlenecks and loopholes and promoting best practice.

AQUAGRIS is developing new strategies for environmental management in order to produce sustainable systems. Such systems are designed to imitate natural systems to maximize existing soil nutrient and water cycles, energy flows and soil organisms. The ultimate goal is to coordinate processes so that waste from one process or system becomes input for another. This information can be used to form guidelines on how to achieve environmental best management practice in a cost-effective way.

The AQUAGRIS network consists of 13 universities, 7 research institutes and 6 SMEs. The diversity in the nature of these institutes ensures exchange of knowledge, experiences and ideas. The effort will sustain its future expansion with the identification of suitable Centres of Activity, throughout the European Research Area, which may become associate and observer members in the research forum.

AQUAGRIS is without doubt a big step forward in environmental management for improved sustainability in the FFA industries. Through interaction, discussion and knowledge it will provide the necessary expertise for informed decision-making for environmentally beneficial and sustainable practices.

List of Partners

  • University of Lecce (Italy)
  • AquaBioTech (Malta)
  • Tampere University of Technology (Finland)
  • Centiv (Germany)
  • Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety (Austria)
  • Ben Gurion University of the Negev (Israel)
  • STM Aquatrade (Italy)
  • University of Southern Denmark (Denmark)
  • Pancham Aquaculture Farms (India)
  • The Suganthi Davadason Marine Research Institute (India)
  • Institute for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops (Germany)
  • Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi, Sezione di Firenze (Italy)
  • National Institute of Oceanography (India)
  • Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norway)
  • Fundacion AZTI - AZTI Fundazioa (Spain)
  • Scottish Association for Marine Science (UK)
  • JTI - Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (Sweden)
  • Transnational Consulting Partnership (Germany)
  • Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (Spain)
  • Universita' Degli Studi Di Lecce (Italy)
  • University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • University of Crete (Greece)
  • University of Gent (Belgium)
  • University of Haifa (Israel)
  • University of Murcia (Spain)
  • University of Caen-Basse Normandie (France)
  • Cochin University of Science and Technology (India)
Full title:
Environmental management reform for sustainable farming, fisheries and aquaculture
Contract n░:
Project co-ordinator:
Vincenzo Zonno, UniversitÓ degli Studi di Lecce,
EC Scientific Officer:
Hallgeir Herikstad,
EU contribution:
€ 899,671
Coordination Action

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top