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.
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.
on our water supply were the subject of a recent
dialogue between COST and NATO experts.|
© Roger McLassus
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.
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.