A look at the IUFoST/IAFoST Actions as World Food Day arrives

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On the Record - excerpted from IUFoST Declaration on Eve of World Food Day 2021

IUFoST and its Membership, Fellows and Associates commit to further mobilisation and towards concrete action in the following areas through stewardship, activism, engagement of business and policy makers, and developing and spreading the science to achieve the SDGs:

 

  1. Renews commitment to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty, zero hunger and good health and well-being.
  2. Aims for zero food loss and waste for both food security and global environmental conservation through advocacy, sustainable consumption, infrastructural development, waste utilization and unused biological resources.
  3. Advocacy to increase budgetary allocation to food and agriculture especially in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) where there is a widening gap in food production and sustainable consumption levels.
  4. Increased capacity building and accessibility of resources especially for poor smallholder farmers and women that account for the bulk of food production and food processing activities in LMICs.  Focus on young scientists through mentorships, scholarships, and empowerment of girl students for tomorrow’s leadership in Food Science and Technology.
  5. Channeling of considerable resources to reducing post-harvest food losses in LMICs, promoting upstream and downstream food processing and market led innovations, removing distortions, and strengthening food value chains. There will be increased emphasis on traditional foods and processes in valuing Food Culture over centuries with an approach for sustainable food consumption and production by considering the importance of social sciences in enabling and empowering communities.
  6. Encouraging governments to establish/enhance their food processing and value additions sectors to underscore their critical importance to the economy not only in LMICs but also in high income countries to prevent food wastage.
  7. Promotion of the production of safe, healthy and nutritious foods, reduction of the huge burden of food-borne illnesses in all regions and countries, the diet transition for minimising obesity and non-communicable diseases burden (especially reducing very high calorie, fat dense as well as sugar rich foods consumption), strengthening food regulatory sciences and development of new approaches for improving food safety in the food chain.
  8. Promotion of food processing for a healthy diet, sustainable food processing research including unconventional sources of foods such as conversion of insects to edible foods and innovative algae bio refinery and emerging technologies where the energy utilization and negative impact on the environment are considerably lower.
  9. Promotion of multidisciplinary approach to mitigating the damaging effects of climate change on the close interaction between water, energy and food, and trans disciplinary research to build sustainability and resilience at the water, energy, food nexus in many parts of the world that rely on ecosystem services for agriculture and food processing. Water conservation, clean water and water recycling are processes in which Food Science and Technology applications and competence can be utilized efficiently.

Actions:

Improving Food Systems by showcasing national and regional opportunities and best practices:

  • Robustness of food regulatory systems is a prerequisite to sustainable food systems. IUFoST is strengthening its commitment to CODEX through active engagement by its CODEX Committee.
  • Bridging the gap between academia with the public (inter-government institution collaborations) and private sector is a key to the sustainable food system.
  • Initiatives for the urban environment for food system. IUFoST can demonstrate through actions of its national bodies.  Proof of optimized energy and water usage is available in the urban and indoor agriculture environment through application of Food Science and Technology.
  • Risk assessment data mining needs capacity building, through collaborative efforts regionally and globally. The behaviours behind producers’ production push versus consumers demand pull and relationship with culture need more scientific data. For improving food safety approaches like risk assessment, hazard surveillance / monitoring, surveillance and investigation need to be focused. 
  • IUFoST needs to emphasize producing sustainable foods with considerations on feed (animal/aquatic environment/nutrition) as much as human food.
  • Capacity building, empowering younger generation as the drivers for sustainable food systems
  • Technology exchange within IUFoST adhering bodies especially “upgrading, up cycling”, reduction of food loss and waste into industrially valuable products. 
  • IUFoST would focus on bringing awareness through consumer education, together with inter-disciplinary collaborators, to start changing their habits to practice sustainable consumption. Education through communication to all sectors and engagement with consumers, nutritionists, medical fraternity, and the governments continue to be vital. IUFoST national and regional bodies have demonstrated successful communication vehicles to increase scientific knowledge of facts around food. Experts representing Food Science and technology in the areas of fortification, food safety, food processing and product development, production and market economy, human nutrition, food engineering, and quality control would work with partners in agriculture, animal breeding, and genetics, livestock processing, social agencies, government regulatory bodies, and UN agencies including CODEX.
  • Capacity building and collaborative research efforts are required from governments and must include industry engagement; overall a cross-discipline engagement is needed with food science and technology as the coordinating component to ensure the safety and sustainability of the traditional food chain. Identification of accountable bodies, securing public/private co-funding and progress tracking systems are key success factors.
  • Real food challenges are in handling scarcity, inefficient use of natural resources, small and fragment structures, sub optimal agricultural practices and poor management and lagging food safety and traceability standards. These sectors need greater attention from policy makers. More collaborative work is needed between academia and industry with local government participation. This is not to replace sustainable agriculture and not to increase the energy requirement per grain of production.
  • Develop food packaging materials and processes that will extend shelf life, reduce waste, and are sustainable and economical.
  • Food Science and Technology has a central role to play to guide traditional, indigenous crops, through local technology processes that have been established over centuries in local kitchens and marketplaces to scale them up with the use of appropriate technologies. More research should be focused on the components of traditional foods, and processes related to the environment (soil, climate, water resource). Traditional processes for scale-up and adaptation to other localities need to be explored. Appropriate food engineering approaches, and standardisation, in conjunction with cultural and environmental reference points, would ensure the safety of the traditional foods.
  • Disruptive technology interventions and other new innovative technologies (3D Printing, High Pressure Processing, etc.) through cutting edge R&D in many food research Institutions and academia with capacity building is an important agenda with food industry interface.
  • The food link to healthy diet and sustainability is in production, processing, marketing and more – we need to be active in promoting quality of foods, not just quantity. Consumers can be informed about sustainable consumption and how to achieve a healthy diet and that this needs the application of Food Science and Technology. 
  • The role of food industries in the food chain from farm to consumer is an important aspect of sustainable food consumption and food processing and the need for constant interactions with the latest innovations in Science and Technology is critical. IUFoST needs to work together with the private sector on some of the challenges related to diet transition with obesity and NCDs, especially high calorie and fat dense as well a sugar-rich foods. IUFoST will work closely with all stakeholders to address these issues, including involvement of consumers through education.

Other key objectives for global Food Science and Technology (through IUFoST) are:
     
 a) Enlist academic, research, and higher education institutions to build capacity, actively support various flagship programs of governments on food and nutrition,

 b Engage with food businesses to ensure availability of safe and healthy food, while creating demand

 for safe and healthy food through a social and behavioral change of citizens, 

 c) Expand the knowledge base of the profession through collaboration and cross-disciplines, to foster dialogue between sectors

d) Enable further growth of the associations and professional development of their members.
 

The intended result of these actions is to prepare a skilled, highly qualified and resilient agri-food workforce for the future. This can be accomplished through primary education in food, food processing and distribution, and  nutrition. They will improve health and well-being in homes and communities which will provide a healthy future workforce. These actions will also provide teachers and training-the-trainer programmes related to the future food industry directed towards tuned and sustainable food systems through equitable education programmes in Food Science and Technology from the grassroots. The development of a knowledge base that uses new and innovative technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, and digitalization is needed through appropriate partnerships with the core competence of Food Science and Technology. Additionally, these actions highlight the need for collaborative partnership between academia/government and the industrial sector joining hands in establishing a sustainable food system for future generations.

 

For the full details of the IUFoST Declaration on the Eve of World Food Day 2021, please read the attachment here.