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Food for thought

Gathering food science knowledge from different EU projects and making the results available through different media channels will support cutting-edge advances in this important field.
Food for thought
Much research on food safety and quality is being conducted around the EU, particularly in biotechnology; yet these disparate studies are not being consolidated and exploited to their full potential. The EU-funded project 'A multimedia repository on European food science: production, quality and safety' (MREFS) has overcome the issue by promoting cutting-edge research results through different channels. The project fostered exchanges among stakeholders and scientists, producing understandable knowledge that could easily support educators, the media and the public through several different initiatives.

One of these initiatives involved a series of focus meetings that strengthened interaction between citizens and scientists, considering as well the needs of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the media and academia. These events also investigated theory and practice in the field of communication, particularly with respect to transmitting risk issues.

Since the launch of MREFS, a project website was also established to provide information on the topic, with special focus on EU projects related to food safety and risk issues. The site acted as an important reference centre for efforts in food quality and safety.

Another key achievement of the project was strong coordination between science clusters and EU projects to produce informative films on subjects of interest to the public as well as academia. These topics included diabetes, asthma, metabolic profiling and genetically modified food.

Lastly, the project established a rapid response network to address the project's user groups. This was achieved through a novel web-based educational tool that fosters collaboration among scientists, teachers and students.

The project's positive impacts are many. MREFS has effectively narrowed the gap between scientists and other stakeholders, contributing as well to defining the balance between benefits and risks of new food items. It has enhanced Europe's competitiveness by encouraging agricultural and food applications of biotechnology, creating a superior repository of information on food science.

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