The World Trade Organization (WTO) shall hold the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade on April 23-24. The conference aims to create mechanisms for the future of food safety and to engage support for reaching goals in the sector.
The WTO will conduct the forum in Geneva, Switzerland. Its purpose is to address the significant problems affecting food safety such as the increased mortality and sickness rates caused by bacteria and other toxic substances found in food.
The organization tallied that over 600 million individuals acquired illnesses, while 420,000 died because of unsafe food. The impact of this problem also caused over $90 billion worth of productivity loss. Experts also provide that climate change and global food production have the highest effect on consumers and the food industry.
The WTO stressed that the presence of these issues makes food safety a primary goal. It added that there should be measures observed from production and harvest until the distribution of food to ensure safe handling of these products.
In response, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that food safety leads to food security. He added that it is society’s shared responsibility to safeguard the world’s food.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, emphasized that the issues regarding food safety worldwide do not gain political attention. He also commented that access to safe food entails a proper investment towards regulations and research facilities to aid this sector.
The talk on food safety is also in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals initiative. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo noted that one of the elements of public health is food safety, so it should become the highest priority.
The two-day forum expects about 130 countries to take part in the event, which includes agriculture, health, and trade ministers, experts, consumer representatives, sister agencies, and civil society organizations. The conference shall also serve as a follow-up to the First International Food Safety Conference held last February 12 and 13 at Addis Ababa.
The event program states that the forum would include panel discussions and presentations which shall cover topics such as the benefits of investing in safe food, sustainable food systems, the science of food safety, and consumer empowerment towards creating healthy food choices and encouraging support for sustainable food systems. Each main topic shall have different branches and speakers to give the participants an idea of the general discussion.