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Visit report - The European Commissioner for health and food security Andriukatis at the Terra Madre Festival 2018

2018 09 20 andriukaitis turin it 01

Photo credits

Italian version

20 September last, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis has been a speaker of the twelfth edition of the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto festival, organized by Slow Food, Municipality of Turin  and the Piedmont Region in Turin.

The Commissioner spoke during the first day of the festival, which took place from 20 to 24 September, focusing  on food waste and the use of antibiotics in farms; then he was the man speaker inan actual citizen dialogue in the afternoon.

Then he participated at the Fighting Food Waste with intelligence and creativity Forum, in which he claimed that food waste represents a real threat forthe twenty-first century: it is unacceptable to contemplate the existence of this phenomenon and accessible solutions must be found.

The European Union is committed to achieve the sustainable development goals set by the UN, including the ability to reduce the amount of food waste by half by 2030. According to Andriukaitis, the Commission will consider the possibility of setting real targets for the reduction of food waste at Unionlevel, which will have to be achieved within the same year.

Unfortunately, these targets have not been included in the recent “Waste Framework Directive” , even if the legislative package requires Member States to reduce food waste and to monitor and report annually on food waste levels. Each state will have to present its plan to reduce food waste for the three-year period 2020-2023 and these rules will be binding. Therefore, the European Commission will check that they are respected in the phase of management, collaborating with the States.

In the early afternoon, at the Antibiotic Resistance: A New Health Emergency Forum, the Commissioner encouraged to stop the unnecessary and inappropriate use of antibiotics in agriculture.

The data are clear: in the European Union alone antimicrobial resistance, which is the phenomenon for which a bacterium is resistant to the activity of an antimicrobial drug, causes 25,000 deaths aevery year. In 2006, the Union, confirming its leadership in the food safety sector, imposed one of the first bans on antibiotics in feed additives for livestock, leading other countries to do the same. Last year a new plan to help Member States was introduced, so to provide innovative, effective and sustainable answers to the problem, including that citizens are properly informed.

Finally, the European Commissioner participated  a citizen dialogue at the Circolo dei Lettori of Turin, in which there was an interesting debate with the audience and with on-line questions. It was about problems related to the use of pesticides on products, the dangers of GMOs in the absence of scientific evidence, and therefore the relationship between science (i.e. the EFSA European Food Safety Authority) and policy (European Commission), in terms of measures to be taken to tackle food crisis.

The European Union has always been a leader in the world with a good rapid food alert system. However, there is the need to implement trust between an Authority like EFSA -defined as "fantastic" by Andriukaitis himself- and the European Commission, not to betray the trust of European citizens.

Furthermore, the important phase of communication on risk to consumers must also be implemented, in order to avoid unnecessary alarms on what are the current problems: GMOs, glyphosate, vaccines, etc. If their evaluation is positive, with reference to any pathologies that can affect human beings (referring to a certain period), then why to undertake real "battles" against their use? However, it is necessary to carry out regular evaluations on the dangers of these substances: only i this way the European Union will maintain the top level standards in the field of food safety.

Lorenzo Russo
Winner of the Master’s Degree Prize “Europe that will be” given by the Emilia-Romagna Regional Council
Europe Direct Emilia Romagna