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Interdisciplinary approach is essential for success, say food experts

Many objectives of the Key Action "Food, Nutrition and Health/Environment and Health" can only be achieved if a wide range of scientific disciplines and socio-economic actors are mobilised to work together, according to the External Advisory Group (EAG), which discussed this K...
Many objectives of the Key Action "Food, Nutrition and Health/Environment and Health" can only be achieved if a wide range of scientific disciplines and socio-economic actors are mobilised to work together, according to the External Advisory Group (EAG), which discussed this Key Action of the thematic programme "Quality of Life, Management of Living Resources".

The Group looked at the work programme of the Key Action by asking three questions, the first addressing "Adequacy of the Key Action's design in respect of the problem-solving approach, both in terms of formulation of the problems and the way in which they should be tackled."

The key challenge addressed by this Key Action is consumers' desire for improved health and well-being and their demand to reduce any health risks derived from the food they eat or the environment to which they are exposed.

The problem-solving approach of this Key Action must place consumers at the forefront of the food chain, according to the EAG, and they should be in a position to influence the primary production methods used in agriculture, processing methods employed, commercial catering practices, as well as the information given on the labels of products at the point of sale.

The second question the Group asked addressed was "Whether the deliverables are clearly presented, sufficiently measurable, both during the lifetime of the programme and at the end".

The achievement of some of the objectives of this Key Action depends on may factors other than research, such as legislation, education, surveillance and control, industry, consumer behaviour, etc, the Group said.

Care should be taken not to establish generic deliverables, that may be useless when evaluating the achievements, or unrealistic deliverables, such us aiming at reducing in five years the incidence of cancer or of reducing food-poisoning outbreaks by a given percentage.

The last question addressed was "Whether the choice of RTD priorities in 1999 is appropriate to meet the programme objectives and achieve the anticipated deliverables". The EAG recommended close interactions between sub-areas within the Key Actions "Environment and Health and Food, Nutrition and Health" and other Key Actions, such as the "Cell Factory", "Infectious Disease" and "Sustainable Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry", which should give rise to clusters of projects with complementary objectives.

Source: European Commission, DG XII

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