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This page was published on 04/12/2006
Published: 04/12/2006


Last Update: 04-12-2006  
Related category(ies):
Agriculture & food  |  Energy  |  Security  |  Transport


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Inaugural COST, NATO food security meeting success, future collaboration planned

The recent inaugural strategic expert meeting between the European Cooperation in Science and Technology programme (COST) and NATO's Science for Peace and Security programme (SPS) concerning food security laid the foundations for further cooperation between the two bodies. Forty-five participants from 15 countries attended the first ever meeting to assess the current security and safety levels of the European food and water supply chain. Both COST and SPS have well-established research policies concerning food security issues, and the meeting was seen as an opportunity to discuss any gaps in research as well as areas for improved cooperation.

Attacks on our water supply were recently discussed by COST and NATO experts. © Roger McLassus
Attacks on our water supply were the subject of a recent dialogue between COST and NATO experts.
© Roger McLassus
Issues such as food supply chain security have received attention from the highest levels of government in light of recent conflicts around the world and associated economic and societal developments. It is generally agreed that a shift in research communities' priorities is required to accommodate such changes.

Attendees to the conference felt that it was a positive first step towards further collaboration.

“One of the main achievements of this meeting is the fact that for the first time COST experts and NATO specialists in the field met directly in an organised frame to discuss the topic. This is a significant success,” said Dr Deniz Betten from NATO Headquarters.

Areas where further cooperation between the two organisations could develop were established, such as organising common educational events for young scientists and public administrations.

EU Infrastructure
For its part, the EU already has a well established infrastructure for food security following scares in recent years, such as the BSE and dioxins outbreaks that rattled citizens'confidence in the food chain.

One such effort is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). EFSA's principle foci are risk assessment and risk communication. It provides the Commission and Member States with expert advice on policy issues related to food and feed safety. It also ensures that the public at large remains up-to-date on all risk assessments.

As for the Commission, DG Health and Consumer Protection's largest area of interest is the quality of the food European's eat. A major tool in their efforts to do so is the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). The purpose of RASFF is to provide the control authorities with an effective tool for the exchange of information on measures taken to ensure food safety.

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