Fondation Mérieux event
6-8 April 2016, Les Pensières, Annecy (France)
Food safety and nutrition are major global public health challenges. By 2050 the world’s population will reach nearly 9.2 billion, 34 % higher than today. In order to feed this larger, richer and more urban population, food production must increase by 70 %.
This will require ecological intensification of production and a reduction in the current inequalities with regard to consumption: reduction of undernutrition in some regions, while cutting waste and excess food consumption in others. Food waste and loss, including loss from inadequate storage currently represents 30-50% of food production.
There is an increasing awareness that good nutrition is key to building and sustaining health and well-being. A number of countries now include food nutritional quality in their public health policies, and are mobilizing their regulatory authorities and agri-food sector to address this important issue. In recent years, the agri-food industry has been investing in research and development in order to bring consumers new kinds of food that are beneficial to their health.
However, the challenges are many: to process or design food, food components and diets that improve the health and quality of life of populations while at the same time ensuring broad food delivery and affordability. Thanks to the development of new tools to explore the "-omics" (genomics, proteomics, metagenomics and metabolomics), progress has been made in understanding the links between food and health. However it has also underlined the complexity of this relationship, making evaluation of the health impact of specific foods a challenging task. New science-based models must therefore be created.
This requires a comprehensive approach and the collaboration of many stakeholders from the public and private sectors linked to agriculture and the food industry. To this end, experts from academia, international organizations, NGOs, regulatory authorities and industry already met on four occasions at Les Pensières during previous “Better Food for Better Health” meetings, to exchange on food security and nutrition issues. Acknowledging that both securing enough food and developing health-enhancing (or "functional") foods are major issues for public health, experts agreed that the changing paradigm requires the establishment of new food delivery systems, and the design of a regulatory framework that ensures food quality without impeding innovation.
In line with the four previous symposia, this fifth "Better Foods for Better Health" symposium, organized by Fondation Mérieux with the support of Mérieux NutriSciences, will gather global experts from academia, international organizations, NGOs, regulatory authorities and industry.