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International Co-operation in Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology Research

Background

Asia is one of Europe’s main trading partners and it is set to grow in importance in the coming years. However, there are fears that Europe’s exacting food quality and safety standards, designed to protect European consumers from ‘farm to fork’, could act as a de facto trade barrier. Although there are moves afoot in Asia now to mirror these norms to gain better access to EU markets, more still needs to be done. In this age of world trade, global co-operation is becoming increasingly crucial as food safety climbs up the political agenda.

Project profile

Derived from the Malay – and Arabic – word for safety, SELAMAT aims to lay the foundation stone for Euro-Asian co-operation in this vital field. It is bringing together scientists and regulators in Europe and Asia in a network to share methodology and policy developments related to food quality and safety. The initial network is made up of a small group of partners: three European food research institutes, a Chinese research institute specialising in pesticides, and the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture, but will expand to embrace up to 60 organisations from several EU and Asian countries by the end of the project’s four-year lifespan.

Socio-economic significance

SELAMAT will have the following long-term socio-economic impacts:

  • It will establish the foundation for an Asia-wide food safety certification, testing and tracing network
  • It will help Asian food exporters gain better access to European markets
  • It will streamline the importing process for importers and food agencies
  • It will enable the EU to deliver on its ‘fork to farm’ pledge to European consumers by ensuring that the food reaching their plates from Asia complies with the same strict standards as food produced in the EU
  • By setting common standards, the project will contribute to the further liberalisation of Euro- Asian trade relations
  • It will identify future priorities for joint Euro-Asian research into food safety, health and traceability.

Scientific significance

The project will contribute to the following scientific areas:

  • The impact of food on health, namely in terms of food safety and risk assessment
  • Traceability along the entire food chain, especially through the development of reliable systems to establish the origin and mode of production of food products
  • Analysis, detection and control methods, particularly new approaches to monitoring and preventing chemical and biological contaminants in food products.

Project outcomes

  • The establishment of a permanent virtual Euro-Asian platform on food safety
  • Annual workshops and courses on various topics, including the impact of food on health, and traceability
  • Capacity building of Asian partners
  • Recommended future courses of action.

Basic project information

  • Acronym: SELAMAT
  • Full project title: Safety enhancement of edible products, legislation, analysis and management with ASEM countries, by mutual training and research
  • Duration: 48 months
  • Starting year: 2004
  • EU funding: €597 000
  • FP6 instrument used: Specific Support Action
  • Project coordinator:
    Hans JP Marvin
    RIKILT – Institute of Food Safety
    The Netherlands
    Hans.Marvin@wur.nl
  • Third country partner(s) involved:
    Institute of Plant Protection (China)
  • Project website: www.selamat.net
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